Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper is a weekly tool that provides daily devotions that correspond to Pastor Kevin’s sermon each week.

Worship From God’s Perspective: “Worshipful Bringing”

 

Worship from God’s Perspective • “Worshipful Bringing”

Malachi 3:6-15

August 21-25, 2017

 

 
 
Have you noticed this year how frequently we have had rainfall in Celina this year? Most of you know that we have among the highest water rates in North Texas

, https://sites.google.com/site/celinatestsite/departments-1/utility-billing/water-sewer-rates so the well- spaced rain we have had this year has made it much less necessary to water our lawns and flowers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_0seoCoOwIn.

That’s a good thing.

 

A few weeks ago we discussed the prospects of a universal flood when we studied the Genesis passages on Noah. (See

Digging Deeper for August 7-11). Not only did it rain cats and dogs for 40 days straight, a couple of other phenomena occurred…the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of heavens

were opened.

 

Noah and his family escaped on the ark as God began to judge the earth through the flood.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 7:11-12

 

God’s Word says, “

the windows of heaven opened and the rain fell upon the earth…” Can you even begin to imagine the downpour of rain that lasted forty days and forty nights? In the past week or so, we’ve seen rain move through our area and it hasn’t been just piddly rain; it has been a deluge of rain as that fell very hard and very fast. When I think of the windows of heaven opening up and rain falling upon the earth as it did in Genesis 7, that’s what I imagine. What about you? But did you know there is only one other time the phrase “the windows of heaven opened…”

is mentioned in the Bible?

10 “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Malachi 3:10

 

This other time the phrase “

open the windows of heaven…” is used is NOT in connection with judgment, but in direct connection to God’s blessing; a blessing so large that every need would be and will be met. This promise of blessing is given in the context of tithing. The Lord of Host, Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת, was the name of the Lord we studied last week. It reminds us that the Lord has all the resources and abilities to overcome circumstances. The people of Israel needed to see the Lord clearly as Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, so they would respond in worship by bringing their tithe to the Lord of Hosts. When you see the Lord clearly as Lord of Hosts, you will respond in worshipful bringing of your tithes to Him. Read this verse in its context…

6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. 13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”

 

In last week’s study of Malachi 1:6-14, God chastised the people of Israel for offering lame and blind animals in sacrifice to Him rather than giving Him their best animals. Fast forward that truth, and from God’s perspective you are instructed to give God

excellence in your worship and not your leftovers. The Lord rebuked them for NOT giving Him His tithe and keeping the best for themselves and giving God leftovers “You are robbing me

.” Wow! What strong words!

 

Have you ever been accused of stealing something? To steal something means that you take a possession that belongs to someone else and that’s exactly what the people of Israel were doing…stealing. By not tithing, they were taking a possession that belonged to someone else, in this case, to the Lord of Hosts. (

He has all resources as Lord of Hosts so you don’t bring it to Him because He needs it; you bring it to Him because you recognize He has given it to you in the first place

.) The tithe belongs to the Lord….

30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”

Leviticus 27:30

 

The tithe was the top 10% of the Lord’s provision for the people whether it was crops from the field, seeds, fruit or animals. In Proverbs 3:10

, God’s people were instructed to honor Him with their wealth and “the FIRST FRUITS of all your produce

.” The first fruits were the most excellent portions of their land and animals and the tithe was to be the first and best, right off the top.

 

MONDAY: From God’s Perspective Tithing Is Bringing To God What Rightfully Belongs To Him—The Most Excellent Portions Of His Provision For You.

When you withhold the tithe from God, you are robbing Him of what rightfully belongs to Him. In essence, by not tithing you are stealing from God. Hey, I didn’t write this stuff, I just work here.

 

Look, God doesn’t NEED your tithe; He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills—although in truth, He frequently delivers them one hamburger at a time. Perhaps you can impact that by trusting Him when He says failure to do so is highway robbery.

 

Look At It Another Way, By NOT Tithing, You Are Not Only Stealing From God, But You Are Robbing Yourself V. 10.

 

Have you ever stolen from yourself? God’s Word says that by NOT tithing, you are stealing from yourself. Go back to verse 10. The Lord told the people to bring the full tithe, not 5% or 9% but the full 10% to Him,

10 And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven FOR YOU and pour down blessing until there is no more need

.” Malachi 3:10

 

The main emphasis of this passage is the blessing of God poured out on His people; on you and me when we tithe.

O.S. Hawkins, who is president of GuideStone Financial Resources

which serves 250,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 30 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation. About this this passage, he says:

“The whole emphasis of the Word of God is not on our giving as much as it is on His opening the windows of heaven to pour us out a blessing so that there would not be room enough to receive. God wants to bless us far more than we want a blessing. The tithe is a starting place in getting God into action in the affairs of men.”[i]

 

You see by NOT tithing you rob yourself of…

 

God’s provision v. 10.

A lot of times it’s easy to think,

If I give 10% at the beginning of the month, then I won’t make it. I’ll have more month left at the end of the money

. But God’s Word clearly says here that by NOT tithing you are robbing yourself of God’s provision to meet your need and you won’t make it. However, since the promise of God is that if you will trust Him by tithing, He will supernaturally bless with more than enough to meet your monthly needs. By NOT tithing you also rob yourself of…

 

God’s Protection v. 11.

11“I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”

 

The Lord of Hosts,

Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, who has all the heavenly resources to meet our needs will protect what you have left so that His abundant provision comes from what you have left. You see, God’s abundant provision from the windows of Heaven doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery, but He will provide abundantly from what you have left over after tithing. Notice this; If you give God your left overs you won’t have enough from the leftovers to make it. However, if you bring to God the most excellent tithe, He will provide for you abundantly from the leftovers. He’ll protect what you have left.

Warren Weirsbe

American pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works wrote,

the money that rightfully belongs to God that we keep for ourselves never stays with us. It ends up going to the doctor, the auto body shop or the tax collector.”[ii]

 

 

Scripture corroborates this statement. Haggai was dealing with the ancestral fathers of these people and stated that not tithing was:

6From the days of your fathers… 7 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes

. Malachi 1:6-7

 

You rob yourself of God’s protection and of His provision when you don’t tithe. But that’s not all;

by NOT tithing, you are not only stealing from God and stealing from yourself, you are stealing from others v. 12.

The Lord of Hosts will bless so powerfully if you obey,

12 Then all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of Hosts.

 

The Lord’s abundant blessing upon His people would be then and will be now a living testimony to the world that He is the Lord of Hosts and the true God. If God’s people today, followers of Jesus Christ, will tithe then there will be more than enough resources to fund the Gospel ministry in our communities, our states, our nations and in the world. However, by not tithing, church budgets struggle, missionaries will have to come home, and we rob others of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at some applications.

 

Living the Word Applications: What can YOU do to a Worshipful Giver?

 

 

TUESDAY: Restoring Your Relationship With The Lord V. 7.

7“Return to ME and I will return to you says the Lord of Hosts.”

 

 

It only makes sense that you cannot be in a right relationship with someone from whom you are stealing. Right? The way you demonstrate that you are returning to the Lord is by tithing. As long as you are not tithing and stealing from God your relationship with the Lord will suffer. You will rob yourself of the sense of presence in your life—His closeness, and the experience of His provision and protection. Take some extra time today to review your practices of bringing some of what you are blessed to receive back to God. Are you at this minimum level of acceptable giving?

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Taking the Test…Tithing v. 10.

10put ME to the test, says the Lord of Hosts…”

 

 

This is the one place in Scripture where God’s people are told to test Him. The Lord wants us to test Him in this promise to “

open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing until there is no need

.” Understand that this is a step of faith for those who are tithing and those who are not tithing. If you are tithing, share with others how you have seen God’s provision in your life and continue to tithe. If you are not tithing, then God’s Word challenges you to test Him and then watch Him provide.
Mary Hunt is one of my all time favorites. I get a free blog from her everyday. It’s called “

Everyday Cheapskate

” and is a delightfully written pilgrimage to find better, cheaper, faster ways to get things done in your life. I love it.

 

She also is a huge proponent of the 10-10-80 rule you have heard me talk about before. Here is a 50+slide deck in a .pdf format:

http://www.debtproofliving.com/Portals/0/Articles/Web%20Desk/Crossroads_Odessa.pdf

It’s worth a browse. She also offers a

Debt-Proof Living

system that is worth a look. The wise counsel is that you must give away 10% of what you earn, save 10% of what you earn (not your 401k, but money you bring home) until you have an emergency fund equal to at least six months of your income and then learn to live on 80% of what you earn. It requires discipline of the highest order. I urge you to take a look. A part of what you earn is yours to keep.

 

The Gorgeous Redhead and I took this to heart some years ago and now are debt free. We don’t purchase anything we cannot pay for in the month the purchase is made. For us, living frugally is not a fad, it’s a lifestyle. I grew up with the mantra ‘

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

.’ It’s not a chore anymore to continue to do so and it enables us to keep on saving and giving.

 

Pastor Kevin made you this deal Sunday: Tithe this month and if you don’t make it, if you don’t see God provide for you, then tell him and the church will refund your tithe back to you. This is an easy deal to make, because I believe in the promise of God so strongly. Are you in?

 

 

THURSDAY: Moving Beyond The Test…Offerings V. 8.

This robbing of God was also mentioned in conjunction with offerings. The tithing was to be the beginning point for God’s people and they were move beyond that to offerings. An offering is over and above the tithe and is another step of faith in trusting the Lord for His provision. Maybe the next step of faith for you is moving to giving above your tithe. Will you do that? Will you trust God to provide?

 

I find it interesting that once you move into New Testament, the Apostle Paul adds another wrinkle about giving.

2 Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay aside in store as God hath prospered him, so that there need be no gatherings when I come.

I Corinthians 16:2

 

8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

II Corinthians 9:8

 

In the first letter to the church at Corinth, God suggested through Paul that perhaps the tithe was the minimum standard in proportionate giving and if and as God prospers you more, you will be motivated to give more.

 

It seems that God wanted the New Testament believers to KNOW that they could give generously and still have plenty left over for everything else.

 

FRIDAY: Changing Your Perspective On Tithing…Bringing V. 10.

10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse…” This could literally translated, “You bring

…”

 

I find it interesting that God doesn’t say, “

Give your tithe” because most often it is described as “give.” “Bring

carries a different connotation. Bringing points toward returning to the Owner of all things, the Lord of Hosts, what is rightfully His. It isn’t giving but repaying. You can bring it with your checkbook or cash or even on your phone with automatic withdrawal. I think one of the challenges of automatic withdrawal is that it happens without ever thinking about it. However, while the people were bringing their tithes they were mindful of God’s blessing to them. Practically, if you are set up with automatic withdrawal, then each month as you look at your bank account, find that tithe withdrawal and spend a few moments worshiping God for His provision for you. Bringing was a personal act of worship where the worshiper was bringing to the Lord in reflection of the Lord’s provision.

From God’s perspective, tithing is a personal act of worship coming from a heart that acknowledges God’s provision in your life.

 

Some of you know who Craig Groeschel is. He’s senior pastor of

LifeChurch with HQ in Edmond, OK. That church meets in about 30 locations around the country and globally online. He’s a dynamic communicator. One of his series dovetails with this week’s study. It’s a 4 part series and I urge you strongly to take time to gather your family around and watch this archived series entitled Making Change

. Life Church makes these archived messages available free of charge to anyone who wants them. You will find the message video, sermon outline, copy of the transcript and a discussion guide for follow up. The titles of the presentations are:
  • Less is More
  • Stress is Bad
  • Giving is Good
  • Tomorrow Matters

https://open.life.church/resources/2749-making-change

 

Barb and I have watched this series and it’s dynamite. We encourage you to do the same this week as you ponder the calls to action for generous giving. We’d l love to hear from you if you do this.

[i] Hawkins, O.S. Money Talks.

Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999. 44-45.

[ii] Weirsbe, Warren. Be Amazed.

Victor Books, 1996. 160.

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Worship From God’s Perspective: “Worship What We Know”

Worship From God’s Perspective:

“Worship What We Know”

John 4:19-22

July 17-21, 2017

 
When my little sister passed away a month and a half ago, the back page of her Memorial Service program had this cartoon. It was a testimonial to the way she lived here last days. She made the most of every day she had left.

 

In her last days, the meaning of life for her was captured in these words:

I will be present

I will not be afraid

I will love all who walk through my adventure

I will not die mad or sad

 
From jokes to cartoons, the clear truth of the question remains a concern for all of us.

What is the meaning of Life?

Most people look in all the wrong places and start with the wrong assumptions. The pursuit of an answer for unbelievers generally starts with a wrong premise. God never intended for the meaning of life to be an obscure search or an esoteric journey. He was plain as day about what life means and He wants you to both find it and live your life to the fullest in it. That’s what we will explore this week.

 

Perhaps we can take another page from that great philosopher, Charles Schulz. Snoopy gets it.

Life is like an ice-cream cone; you have to lick it one day at a time. In the meantime as you look in plain sight for the answer to the age-old question of The Meaning of Life

, you can start with Woodstock and Snoopy and “Keep Looking Up.”

 

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not so much about the Meaning of Life as it is What is the Meaning of

YOUR

life. Let’s go see.

 

MONDAY: “What Is My Purpose In Life?”

The answer to that question, if answered correctly, will set the course of life for you.

 

So what is the answer?

Knowing God

.

 

Your purpose in life and the purpose of every person who has ever lived or will live is to

know God. God made YOU in His image so that you CAN

know Him. All humans are relational creatures and the most important relationship you can have is found in knowing God. That sets the tone for all the other relationships you ever will have. Listen up.

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and KNOWS ME…”

Jeremiah 9:23–24

 

3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent

. John 17:3

 

The apostle Paul understood this truth as well when he was willing to sacrifice everything to pursue that solitary purpose.

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Philippians 3:8 & 10

 

One of our ministry values here at FBC Celina is helping you fulfill that purpose in your life as a member of this church body and as an individual. The basis for that is in the Scriptures you just read from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

 

Our ministry value of

Passion states: We will passionately pursue knowing the Lord.

 

Over the rest of this week, let’s unpack that thought.

 

TUESDAY: How Are You Doing In Fulfilling Your Purpose In Life?

The measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God.

 

 

The more you know God, the more you will worship Him. Jesus said as much in John’s Gospel

. The title of this week’s study is “Worship What We Know”.

 

 

In this passage, Jesus was traveling through Samaria and stopped in the town of Sychar because He was thirsty. He found a rest area near Jacob’s well where He could get a drink and began a conversation with a Samaritan woman. In the midst of that conversation, the woman began to change the topic of conversation because she was uncomfortable with Jesus’ knowledge of her personal life. She directed the conversation to the topic of worship and this is where you can begin to listen in…

19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

John 4:19-23

 

Lock in on verse 22, “

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Jesus said, “Worship is what we know

…” The reason they worshipped what they knew was, “salvation is from the Jews.” God in His infinite wisdom entrusted the truth about the meaning of life to His chosen people, the Israelites. The difference between the Jews and Samaritans was what was known and what was NOT known.

 

There was a major point of contention between Jews and Samaritans emphasized in verse 20…

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship

.”

 

Notice how the woman began to deflect the conversation? First of all, Jews did not talk to Samaritans and Jewish men did not talk to Samaritan women, period.

The Samaritans accepted only the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, in the Old Testament and they chose Mount Gerizim as their place of worship. Mount Gerizim was significant because in the neighboring area Abraham built his first altar to worship God.[i] Whereas, the Jews accepted the entire Old Testament and recognized that God himself had chosen Jerusalem as His selected place of worship. That was significant because in rejecting the remainder of the Old Testament, the Samaritans lacked the revelation that salvation was from the Jews…Jesus as the Messiah

. So much of the Old Testament they rejected, pointed to the truth that salvation would come first to the Jews and then to other people.

 

You cannot worship what you do not know because true worship is in what you know…God, our heavenly Father.

 

Worship begins with knowing that salvation is from the Jews in and through the sacrificial life and death and resurrection of

Yeshua Hamashiach – Jesus, the Christ. Knowing the Father begins with knowing that salvation is from the Jews in Yeshua Hamashiach,

crucified for your sins and resurrected to give you the possibility of eternal life. This is what Jesus meant when He said,

3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3

 

6 I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

 

Knowing God the Father must start at the beginning with a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. It was God who sacrificed the first animals to cover up the nakedness of Adam and Eve’s sin as forgiveness that they might continue to know Him once their innocence followed their Fall in sin.

 

One of the differences between Cain’s and Abel’s sacrifices in Genesis 4 was Abel’s blood sacrifice of his first lambs. A.W. Tozer notes, “

Cain’s worship was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man. Cain casually assumed that he was deserving of acceptance by the Lord without an intermediary.”[ii]

Whereas, Abel knew the character of God and the need for a blood sacrifice to forgive his sin.

 

In our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, there is a vivid visual reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us that we might

know the Father and truly worship Him. The bread reminds you of His body given for you and the juice of the cup reminds you of His blood shed for the forgiveness of sins that you might know Him. It is through faith in Christ’s sacrifice that you fulfill your purpose…knowing God

.

 

We worship what we know. How are you doing in knowing God? I challenge you to grow in knowing God because the measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God. Let’s look at some applications.

Worship is….

 

WEDNESDAY: Personally Knowing Him…Walking With Him.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27

 

One of the basics of a relationship with Jesus Christ is “

hearing

” His voice and walking with Him on a daily basis. You can hear His voice through prayer and you can hear His voice through His Word and then walk with Him daily as He has spoken to you.

 

Can you recall what it was like that very first time you fell in love? How old were you, 12, 14, 16…? You could not wait to be in each other’s presence. You hung on every word. You could talk on the phone way into the night. You lived for the next time you could hold hands? You had this giddy sense of euphoria all the time. Remember?

 

Your daily devotions don’t end when you say “Amen” but they continue as you walk with Him into your day. Your deepest desires are to be close to Him all day, to hang on His every word, to find ways to please Him. I challenge you to spend the remainder of the year reading through the Gospels. I am particularly partial to the

Tyndale House Chronological Bible

that puts the life and times of Jesus in a chronology that is easy to follow.

https://www.amazon.com/Chronological-Life-Application-Study-Bible-ebook/dp/B007V69GTM/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499800290&sr=1-6&keywords=chronological+bible+tyndale+house

 

As you read, look for our Shepherd’s every movement. Reflect on His interactions with people. Listen to His voice and walk with Him into your day. J.I. Packer wrote, “

The Jesus who walks through the gospel story walks with Christians now, and knowing Him involves going with Him now as then.[iii]

 

 

THURSDAY: Personally Knowing Him…Commitment.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14-15

 

Back to the memory of that first love. You made promises to each other to love each other until the end of time. You could not imagine not being together…ever.

 

To really know someone, you must commit yourself to spending time together and knowing their character, knowing their hearts, and knowing their concerns. You must commit yourself to knowing God’s character, knowing God’s heart, and knowing God’s concerns. But it also means you must commit yourself to being open enough to BE known. Jesus knows you. He knows every flaw and failure. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you in spite of that knowledge, just the way you are. But committing yourself to knowing Him means letting Him change what He knows about you.

 

What are the character flaws in you right now that Jesus needs to change? This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a starting point to identify and then lay up before Jesus the flaws you would like for Him to change in you.

https://writerswrite.co.za/123-ideas-for-character-flaws/

 

Commit to letting Him change you. Just as in a 12-step program, the first step involves admitting that you are powerless to change character flaws on your own. The next steps have utility for each of us on a recurring basis:

 

  • Come to believe that God wants to heal your flaws.
  • Make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God.
  • Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.
  • Admit to God, to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
  • Become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove your shortcomings.

 

To cooperate with Him in the process will be transformative. You can do this!

 

FRIDAY: Personally Knowing Him…NOT Just About Him v. 22.

The Samaritans knew a lot ABOUT God but they didn’t really know Him because so much of His character had been revealed in the areas of the Old Testament they rejected. Can you imagine not having the beautiful poetry of the Psalms or the wisdom of Solomon or the graphic examples of the consequences of disobedience in the books of history and prophecy or the Scarlet thread running through it all pointing to Jesus?

 

I can know a lot about our president by reading articles about him, searching the Internet and studying his family history, but I still don’t

know him. You can come to Sunday School, study the Bible, and learn new facts about God without knowing Him. Knowledge about God makes you arrogant so that you can demonstrate your knowledge about Him to others and make yourself appear more intelligent. Do you remember when I told you about the Temple Cult Heresy? The Jews became arrogant because they had the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant and they thought they were bullet-proof. Nobody could hurt them because they had Superman

on their side. Even then, it was not about the Temple or the Ark or their belief that God would protect them no matter what. They lost sight of the fact that their reliance on what they knew ABOUT God did not equate with KNOWING Him. It was a costly mistake. God showed them repeatedly that the trappings of their faith were not enough. He demanded they KNOW HIM.

 

There must be a transfer of knowledge about God from your head to your heart. When that takes place, you will bow your heart in worship to Him because you

know Him. Do you know more about God than you know Him? Are the facts you know about Him being transferred from your head to your heart? There’s one indicator that shows that it’s happening…worship

. The more you know Him, the more you worship Him because you worship what you know.

 

Remember I said earlier, the measure to which you know God is the measure to which you are a worshipper of God. How do you measure up? Think on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being not passionate and 10 a burning passion.

 

How passionate are you in your desire to know God?

[i] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: John 1-11.

Moody Publihsers, 2006. Location 296 in Kindle Fire.

[ii] Tozer, A.W. Whatever Happened to Worship.

Wingspread Publishers, revised in 2012. In Location 390 in Kindle Fire.

[iii] Packer, J.I. Knowing God.

InterVarsity Press, 1973. 38.

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How Big is Your Dream?

Jossy Chacko: “How Big is Your Dream?”

Matthew 25:14-30

July 10-14, 2017

 
Jossy Chacko is the Founder and President of
Empart, http://www.Empart.org a global ministry that exists to ignite holistic community transformation among the unreached and needy people of Asia. Empart’s primary goal is to see 100,000 communities transformed by 2030
.

 

Jossy left South India at the age of 17, with $20 in his pocket, a one way ticket to Australia and a big dream to become a business success. Life in Australia started in total disaster with no job, no money and no friends or family. Depressed and at the brink of suicide, Jossy had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Soon after, he became part of a small logistics company that later grew to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

 

Busy climbing the business ladder and chasing success, Jossy’s plan was for early retirement on a hobby farm. This dream was changed forever by an encounter with an eight year old homeless boy while honeymooning in North India with his Australian wife, Jenni. Jenni had insisted that they go to India and see the

Taj Mahal. This encounter was the catalyst for Jossy to begin developing some deep, life-changing convictions: “The only reason for any Christian to exist is to fulfill the Great Commission” and “The greatest injustice in the world is while some people can choose to hear about Jesus anytime, others can’t – even if they want to.” His experiences and convictions culminated in the establishment of Empartin 1998.

 

Jossy’s book,

Madness!, describes this and other critical encounters in his journey – from being a ridiculed boy, with a mentally ill Dad, to becoming a financial success and then surrendering it all for the cause of the poor and lost. The book is available in paperback and audio formats at www.Empart.org

 

Under Jossy’s visionary leadership,

Empart grew from the spare bedroom of the Chacko’s home to become a prolific and leading community transformation movement, bringing both spiritual and social transformation to lives and communities. Empart’s community transformation initiatives now impact about 6,500,000 people each month. With more than 6,500 full-time workers and offices in seven countries, Empart

is well positioned, and on track, to achieve its objectives.

 

Jossy’s conviction that “none should perish” compels him to many nations, inspiring business and spiritual leaders to capture a God-vision. Over the years he has invested into significant leaders with great results, particularly across Europe and Asia. He also serves on the board of several business and non-profit organizations.

 

Jossy is a gifted communicator – his story telling abilities, combined with insight and humor, serves to challenge, inspire, confront and convict the listeners. God’s favor is evident in his life and ministry and doors continue to open for him with political, business and religious leaders around the world

Jossy and Jenni do not receive a salary from

Empart

, choosing to joyfully serve the Lord by faith, knowing God will provide all their needs. They live in Melbourne, Australia, with their four children and two dogs.

 

Hilary Hinton

“Zig” Ziglar

captured this thought from Oliver Wendell Holmes and used it many times in his motivational messages and writings.

 

This thought came to mind as I listened to Jossy yesterday. All too many of us get settled into dreams that we then build the world around.

 

 

MONDAY: Jossy Moved Us To Take A New Look At The Last Parable Jesus Left His Disciples Before The End Of His Earthly Life.

 

Parable of the Three Servants and Bags of Gold

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of gold began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of gold also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of gold came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of gold to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of gold came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of gold to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:14-30 NLT

 

The first two servants proved trustworthy for more. Each of them had been trusted with something and so have YOU. How can you know if you can be trusted with more?

 

The operative question for this week is “

Where is Your Talent?” And the second is “What are you going with it?

” You simply have to multiply what you have been given, and when you do, God will give you more.

 

The third servant buried his talent and sadly was never heard of again once the Master returned.

 

Multiplication of your talents has its roots in many Old Testament and New Testament characters. Adam was admonished to “

Be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth.” Abraham was promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The Apostles were instructed to “Go into all nations and make disciples

.”

 

By extension, YOU are commanded to multiply as well. What will your legacy be? It will all be about what you did with what you have been given.

 

A popular iteration of that is found in the

Prayer of Jabez,

Bruce Wilkinson’s little book of the same name.

 

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’ So God granted him what he requested.”

 

So, how are you going to

Expand Your Legacy

?

 

TUESDAY: Enlarge Your Vision

 
What has God placed in your heart?

 

For Barb and me it’s all about helping create and sustain healthy Godly marriages and families. At one time we had hoped to have a benefactor that would enable us to change the way we practice ‘family’ in our nation within just a generation.

God did not honor that part of our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) dream, so we decided we’d do what we could one family at a time. So we started with plans and content to create our Marriage 3.0 intensive weekend ministry that we conduct here in Celina. We formed

www.24kgoldmarriage.org

and began writing our 24kNUGGET blogs a couple times a month. We offer churches training to establish marriage educator and coaching ministries to enhance their marriage counseling ministries.

 

We’ll keep on doing that as long as God gives us strength and resources, but we keep our eyes open for other ways God may enlarge our vision. Perhaps a ministry to ministerial families who have had life-upsetting experiences like

SonScape

or maybe teaching university students about how to create healthy relationships or even teaching basic life skills to high school students.

 

We’re asking God to make it abundantly clear to us.

 

Let me warn you, however, that there will be those around you what Jossy called ‘

Vision Poppers’

who are quick to point out why your big visions won’t work. The Monday morning quarterbacks will always second guess you and try to drag you down. When you see them coming, run like mad the other way. Let no one steal your vision or your joy.
I’m reminded of the great example Nehemiah. Here it is in a children’s story. [

Parenthetically, an old friend of mine…now long gone to glory…T. D. McCullough was a missionary to the San Andreas Islands in the southern Caribbean where the education of the indigenous people was about the 6th grade. He said he had to learn to preach with 6th grade vocabulary. He noticed when he got back on furlough to the States that he continued to preach that way and nobody misunderstood him.] http://bibleforchildren.org/PDFs/english/The_Great_Wall_of_Nehemiah_English.pdf

 

What is your vision? Do you have a ‘mind to work’? FOCUS!

 

WEDNESDAY: Empower People Around You

Back to our story of the bags of gold with which we started the week. The rich man gave out his riches according to his assessment of his workers and then he left on a trip. He didn’t give them any instructions, he just took a chance that if he empowered his men to get the job done, they would.

 

My personal preference in hiring people focused on a few essentials:

  • I always told prospects that while they were in our employ, I wanted all their attention, but if they should find someone who could take better care of them than we could, they should go. Regardless of when that occurred, I wanted our people to want to be with us.
  • I asked this question that made the HR people cringe, but it went to character and that was a priority for me. “If I ask you about your vocation, I will know how you have made your living, but if I ask you about your avocation, I will know what you are passionate about.” So, what is your avocation?” Character was more important to me than skill.
  • I am also a big proponent of MBWA (management by walking around) where relationships were developed. I always cared about what was happening in the lives of those who worked with us. Work-life balance can only be achieved if employees have freedom to attend school functions with their children, to be absent for medical emergencies in their families, to attend special occasions, in short to Do Life. When they were sick or had family in the hospital, I was there. I earned the right to perform marriages and coach troubled marriages for some who worked with us. Relationships were everything.
  • And yet, right outcomes were not compromised. We set up right systems and streamlined key performance indicators and maximized our efforts to achieve the highest results possible.

 

THURSDAY: Embrace Risk

The rich man decided to take a risk in giving his bags of gold to his employees without telling them what to do with them. The underlying message of this parable is that it is impossible to please God without taking some risk.

 

It is so easy to drift from being a pioneer to becoming a preservationist. It is a subtle paradigm shift that is deadly to organizations and visions.

 

Here is the key to keeping that shift from occurring to you:

  • See Risk as your Friend to love and not an Enemy to fear
  • Don’t let the fear of losing what you have rob you of the joy of successfully achieving what God has given you vision to accomplish
  • Recognize that comfort, safety and risk cannot co-exist. Ask yourself, even rhetorically, ‘who is missing out because YOU are not taking the next steps into the unknown…taking risks.’
  • If you just have to figure everything out before you risk you’ll miss the heavenly possibilities (think what might have happened if our government wasn’t busy playing CYA during the run up to 9/11 and there was more risk taken to prevent the attack than worrying about protecting agency turf). Sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way. Don’t let that be YOU.
  • Increase your threshold of pain
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Make a decision day commitment. On your mark, Set…GO
  • I promise you that you won’t get to heaven looking back over your shoulder saying, “Oh, if only…?

 

FRIDAY: Take Action Today

If you intend to make sure you do not die with your music still in you, regardless of what quarter of your life you are in, here are some practical things you can do to ensure that your God-given talents have been multiplied time over before you slip into eternity. They take extreme courage. Will you do this today?

  • Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of all your dreams that have not yet been accomplished in your life. State them as ACTIONs to be done.
  • List them in priority order and then set time frames for their accomplishment, including personnel and financial resources necessary for that to be done.
  • Select a person with whom you can scrupulously and consistently report your progress and invite him or her to hold you accountable for the outcomes.
  • Start

 

Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out shouting, “WOW, what a ride!”

 

Only one life, t’will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

What is your dream?

Jerry Del Colliano in his blog Day Starters offers this closing thought:

  • Being the top-biller or receiving the most awards does not make you better than anyone else.
  • Fred Smith who founded FedEx had his idea rejected in economics class at Yale by earning a less than stellar C.
  • Malcolm Gladwell couldn’t get into grad school and now grad schools are reading him.
  • Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were either high school or college dropouts.
  • Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to pursue Facebook which he started in his dorm room.

Being good enough is not about the past but pursuing your dreams – relentlessly if possible.

No one gets to grade you because in the end only you and God can decide what success is.

And there is no time limit on your next success.

  • Believe it.
  • See it vividly in your mind’s eye.
  • Achieve it.

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Ministry Values: “Passion- Worship from God’s Perspective”

Ministry Values – “Passion – Worship from God’s Perspective”

Amos 5:21-24

July 3-7, 2017

 
 
I either want not to offend anybody or else to be an equal opportunity offender when it comes to talking about worship.

 

There are as many misconceptions about worship as there are people who purport to do it.

 

Jokes abound. For example:

The little boy who asked his Mom about the plaque in the foyer with names of military personnel who had given their lives. His Mom said they were people who had died in the service. His response was, “The morning service or the evening service?”

 

When it comes to worship styles, my doxy is orthodox and your doxy is heterodox. Styles of worship attract and styles of worship repel.

  • I just can’t stand that 7-11 music, you know…seven words repeated eleven times
  • I just love 4-3-2-1 contemporary Christian music…four words, three chords, two stanzas, (wash rinse, repeat)
  • Those time honored traditional hymns of the faith really speak to me
  • Whatever happened to those Gospel songs our parents used to sing
  • Man oh man, if only I could find someplace where Southern Gospel is the style, I’d go there.
  • So much of what passes for worship today fails to capture the dignity and awesomeness of the Gregorian chants and high church liturgy
  • The preacher is just too loud. Wish he wouldn’t yell.
  • The preacher is too long-winded
  • I have a hearing loss and the preacher preaches in tones I can’t understand and the church doesn’t have hearing impaired resources
  • Ad infinitim – ad nauseum

 

When you stop and take a thoughtful look at the word “worship”, what comes to YOUR mind? Each of you in yesterday’s service has something different in mind. It’s safe to say that you have your own idea about what worship is, what worship is not or what makes a great worship service. You get your opinion on worship from your past experiences and are often motivated to recreating or trying to find a replica of past experience in the present or else it’s not really worship for you. With so many thoughts and opinions for worship, it is easy to lose sight of the true meaning of worship and to lose sight of the ONE who cast the deciding vote on true worship… God. I believe it’s important for us to look at worship from His point of view because there are several times through the pages of Bible where God’s people thought they were worshiping and He steps in and says, “You’ve got this all wrong.” To me one of the most powerful of all those times is found in the Old Testament book of Amos.

 

Would you believe that true worship has nothing at all to do with:

  • Music style
  • Musical instruments
  • Setting
  • Preacher
  • Sermon content
  • Sermon length
  • Lighting
  • Comfort of the pews
  • Or anything else…

 

Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BC during the reign of Jeroboam II, (788–747 BC) making the Book of Amos the first
biblical prophetic book written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah but preached in the northern kingdom of Israel. At this particular time, the Northern Kingdom was enjoying a great deal of prosperity, however sinfulness permeated their lives through idolatry and through unjust treatment of others. There was a great divide between the rich and the poor and the rich were oppressing and abusing those less fortunate. While all this was going on, the people continued to gather for sacrifice and the annual feasts that God called them to observe in honor of His magnificent works among His people.

 

In years gone by, I was Executive Pastor for First Baptist Church, Shawnee, OK. As I read through the history of that old church, I found they were incorporated in Shawnee, IT (Indian Territory) before OK became a State. One sad but intriguing part of the history was that on Sundays, several men would get up from their seats just before the time of the offering and leave the building. As the offering was being received, Klansmen would come in dressed in their sheets and hoods and put their offering on the Communion Table, march back out and then these same men who had left would return. The hypocrisy was not lost on me then any more than it was lost on Amos in his day. Listen to the words of Amos…

21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 5:21-24

 

Notice the intensity of the words that the Lord uses in verse 21,

“I hate” “I despise”. They describe a complete rejection of the people even when they were observing the letter of the law about the feasts to honor God. The phrase, “take not delight” is actually one word that meant to smell, and I don’t mean like Old Spice. It was an expression of satisfaction when God smelled a burning sacrifice offered in the right spirit. However in this case it is reference to the people and the Lord is saying, “You even gathering together is a foul smell to Me.

Finally, look at the command of verse 23, “

Take away from me the noise of your songs…” This particular phrase is in a tense that translates, “you cause to take away from Me the noise of your songs, it’s all your fault.” I’m not going to get rid of the noise of your songs, you get rid of it. The Lord called their singing NOISE

!

 

While I can’t really relate to offering sacrifices as a part of worship, I can relate to singing. One of the things that I think of the most in worship is singing. But, the Lord said their singing was noise and He didn’t even consider it worship. Why do you suppose that was?

 

Could it have been because of the sin of their lives? Only when they “

let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

” would they truly begin to worship.

 

Before they could truly worship Him in sacrifice and song, they had to practice righteousness in their dealings with other people. If you think that because you have showed up and sung some songs that you have worshiped, but then lived during the week to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life…then from the Lord’s perspective He’s saying, “

Stop the NOISE, it ain’t worship

!”
 

 

TUESDAY: Worship Is Not An Event, But A Life Of Obedience To God.

 

You simply cannot live ever which way you want during the week and expect God to approve what you show up and do on Sunday. What’s the old adage? Sow your wild oats on Saturday and show up in church on Sunday and pray for crop failure. From God’s point of view, how you live your life on a regular basis has a direct impact on His judgment about your approach to worship. On Sunday, He may very well be saying, “Stop the NOISE!”

 

Unless you and you alone get your act together, no amount of singing or lifting your hands or saying “Amen” or thumbing through your Bible or taking notes can be construed as worship.

 

From God’s vantage point, He has given us insight into the true nature of worship by the words He has used in The BOOK for “

worship.” In the Old Testament, the most commonly used word for worship meant a bowing down and referred to “the way in which an Israelite fittingly thought of his approach to the holy presence of God.”[i]

Here are two instances of this word

3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 7:3

 

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness

. Psalm 29:2

 

In the NT, there is a word used that carries the same overtone in meaning

10 The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,” 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created

. Revelation 4:10-11

 

Big Point. Pay close attention. The position of your body and the declaration of your mouth reflect the condition of your heart in response to God.

Worship then is a response to God that begins in your heart and is reflected through your body and your mouth.

 

It doesn’t matter if you like the music style or the décor in the worship center or the message being preached. None of that controls whether or not YOU worship. You have an obligation before God to do worship. Your failure to worship is on you and you alone. It’s about your personal and direct link to God through Jesus Christ. If you allow any of the trappings of corporate settings for ‘worship’ to impact your worship…that’s on YOU.

 

 

There is a second Old Testament term that was used for worship.

This second term is often translated “service” and the root meaning of this word is that of a slave or servant. However, the connotation of this word is NOT negative but rather of a “relationship of a servant and kindly master.”[ii] David was called a servant of God in Psalm 89 and his relationship with the Lord lead to joyous praise. There is a corresponding New Testament word latreia λατρεία that means service

.

3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…”

Philippians 3:3

 

WEDNESDAY: Worship Then Is A Response Of Serving God That Flows Out Of Your Relationship With God Through Jesus Christ.

 

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Romans 12:1

 

However, just like every Infomercial ever made…

And Another Thing…there is another truth for you to gather from the use of this Old Testament and New Testament word λατρεία

. Remember last week when we went back to our recent study of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi? Philippians 2:5-8.

 

We discovered that an aspect of God’s character in Jesus was that of a

servant. Jesus was the outward expression of the inmost character of God and at its heart, He was a servant. Did you get that God wants to morph the character of a servant within you? As God morphs the character of serving within us, He is morphing the character of a worshipper.

The same kind of metamorphosis that occurs when the caterpillar morphs into a morth or a butterfly needs to occur in you. The more you invite God to morph in you the character of a servant that is reflective of Jesus, the more He is morphing the character of a worshipper in you. Let’s look at some applications.

 

So how can you open up your life for God to do His marvelous work of Metamorphosis turning your character to that of a worshipper by letting justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Here are some ways you can do just that:
 

 

THURSDAY: By Bowing To God In Your Moments During The Week – Luke 4:5-8.

 

Satan was tempting Jesus a second time.

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ”

 

Make no mistake about it, this temptation has everything to do with being tempted to misplace worship from God to Satan. I want you to notice Jesus was tempted with the power and pleasures of the kingdoms of this world. Next I want you to be sure to notice that Satan tempted Him “in a moment of time…” Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve” in every

moment. This is a statement of exclusive priority. Each moment during the week is a moment to worship God as your priority. It is in your moments that Satan creeps in to tempt you with the allurements of this world and while he is doing it is looking for subtle ways to pull you away in that moment from worshipping and serving God. Even while you are in the place where have set aside a place for corporate worship, he can tempt your mind away from this moment for God.

 

Here’s how it can happen:

You are at the office working away and then the temptation comes to take a financial short cut that you know is wrong but will pay off quicker than doing things honestly. In that moment, do you bow and worship Satan pursuing the short cut or do you bow and worship God by doing things honestly? It plays out in thousands of moments like that throughout your daily life. Jesus wouldn’t even give Satan a single moment of worship because it would have pulled Him away from His ultimate act of worship…dying on the cross. The more moments you give to God during the week, the more true worship will overflow into your ultimate act of worship on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and…

 

A humble man who has given us a great example of what it means to give God your moments is a man simply called

Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman in Hériménil, near Lunéville in the region of Lorraine, located in modern-day eastern France

. As a young man, Herman’s poverty forced him into joining the army, which guaranteed him meals and a small stipend. During this period, Herman claimed an experience that set him on a unique spiritual journey.

 

He fought in the

Thirty Years’ War and following an injury, left the army and served as a valet. After some time, he joined a Priory in Paris

.

 

Nicolas entered the priory in Paris as a

lay brother, not having the education necessary to become a cleric, and took the religious name, “Lawrence of the Resurrection“. He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for most of his life and as a repairer of sandals in his later years. Despite his lowly position in life and the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God.

Father

Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, compiled this work after Brother Lawrence passed away. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with the likes of John Wesley and A. W. Tozer

recommending it to others.

 

His death in 1691 occurred in relative obscurity, but his teachings lived on in the compilation of his words. He wrote a series of letters that have been compiled into this book entitled, “

The Practice of the Presence of God.” He simply states that it all begins with remembering God is always present with you and you must try to stay in constant connection with Him. Find a copy of this book and read it. Let its simple applications teach you how to bow down to God in your moments. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002BH3NN6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

 

FRIDAY: Bowing Down To God…Focus On What You Can Give Not Receive

 
Him only shall you serve.” This word “serve” is our New Testament word for serving God out of our relationship with him. Serving then is worshipping God by giving to Him not in order to obtain something else. Too often I observe an attitude in worship that it’s what I can receive from it; what I can get out of it. But the focus should be on what you give to God. From God’s perspective, the character of a worshipper, worshipping out of your relationship with Him must be focused on what you can give to Him, not WIIFM….What’s In It For Me
.

 

Philippians 2:5-8 called us to the united mindset of Christ who taking the form of a servant humbled himself and became obedient to death on the cross. An aspect of this united mindset you are to have is the character of a worshipper who is more focused on what you can give to God than on what you may receive. Jesus’ entire life was focused on what He could give to God His Father. Is there anyone who was more of a worshipper of God than Jesus? No. I think not. Is there anyone who served God out of His relationship with His Father more than Jesus? No. Is there anyone who worshipped God out of obedience more than Jesus? No. And so in the end, He became obedient to death even death on the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice of worship that flowed from a life of obedience to God the Father. At the cross of Christ, justice flowed down like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream on your behalf that the character of a servant-worshipper might be morphed within you. Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacrifice of worship, what He could give to God the Father more than He could receive. At the cross of Christ, justice flowed down like a river and righteousness like a mighty stream on your behalf that the character of a servant-worshipper might be morphed within us.

 

So, have you worshipped today?

 

Remember that your worship is not dependent upon how the singer sings or the preacher preaches or even where you are. It is all about having the bowed spirit and the heart for service that issues forth in praise, thanksgiving, evangelism and fellowship with other believers.

 

God help me to be as loving, caring and sensitive toward those you put in front of me today as You are and have been to me. Let me serve in Your Holy and Precious Name everyday until you come back to get me.

[i] Martin, Ralph P. Worship in the Early Church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974. 2nd

Edition. 11.

[ii]

Ibid, 12.

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One: “The Secret Contentment”

One: “The Secret of Contentment”

Philippians 4:10-23

June 18-23, 2017

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zcVnNwAHys

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Song:

“I Want it Now” Did you catch the line? “I want the world, I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It’s my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now![i]

 
In summary, I want more and I want it now. The words of this song describe vividly the materialistic mindset that pervades our culture and, if you’re honest creeps its way into your mind as well. This is one of the most difficult battles that Christians in America fight on a daily basis.

Do you find yourself fighting that battle?

 

At the close of our study of Philippians, the Apostle Paul revealed the

secret to finding victory over the desire for more. In this letter, Paul called the Philippian believers to stand as One in a divided world and he gave them several instructions that, if followed, would create that oneness. One of the primary keys to achieving oneness is having, as has been repeated multiple times, a united mindset to follow the self-sacrificing model of Jesus Christ. However, it is not possible to really have the self-sacrificing mindset of Christ and the “I want it now

!” attitude as well. Therein lies the battle that you face. You simply cannot begin to experience victory in this battle while focused on wanting more. What’s the secret?

 

As this study comes to a close, God’s Word reveals to us the secret.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit

.

 

There are two key words in these verses that help answer the question of the day. The first word is “

contentment” mentioned in verse 11. Being content is the antithesis of the “I want more and I want it now mindset.” “Contentmentcomes from the Stoic Philosophical group of Paul’s day and referred to a man being self-sufficient regardless of the circumstances around him.[ii] So said Kenneth Wuest, a professor of New Testament Greek at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago who published more than a dozen books on the New Testament. Wuest is often cited as one of the most influential Evangelical and Dispensationalist

scholars.

 

It speaks of being content with what one has or with circumstances.[iii]

Paul used this same word in writing to Timothy.

6 But Godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

1 Timothy 6:6-7

 

The second word of importance to us is found in verse 12. Paul said he learned “

the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” The word “secret” used here comes from the pagan mystery religions of their day. In the NT it refers to something that was hidden but now has been revealed.[iv]

To the mystery religions, the manner in which the secrets were revealed was through experience gained by initiation. Paul had experienced a lot in his Christian life as you can plainly see by the words in this verse.

 

Through all of those experiences of triumph and trial, the secret had been revealed to him. Then, in verse 13 he says, “

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me

.” This verse is probably the most familiar of all the verses in Philippians and has been claimed as a promise by people in various arenas of life. However, this verse is often misused because its immediate application has nothing to do with running faster, lifting a heavier weight, or accomplishing some other feat that you thought was impossible. The immediate application has to do with the secret to contentment in life.

 

Folks, the secret to contentment is learning Christ’s sufficiency.

Whereas the Stoics and our world today teaches self-sufficiency i.e. look to yourself because you are the captain of your soul, Paul had learned Christ’s sufficiency. Rather than depending on himself in any life situation, Paul depended on Christ. This sufficiency in Christ is completeness, a fulfillment that you can find in Jesus Christ because you embrace the providence of God in all areas of your life.

 

One of the greatest examples of finding sufficiency in God because of His providence is found in the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. A young man sold into slavery by his jealous brothers who would also be imprisoned in Egypt because of a false accusation, but eventually would ascend to the number two position in all the land. He would one day meet his brothers again and say, “

What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Paul understood the providence of God in his life, so he found the secret to contentment…sufficiency in Christ. The secret is sufficiency in Christ.

 

MONDAY: For Where God Has Me… My Place v. 11.

 

11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content

.”

 

Notice the phrase, “

whatever situation I am

..” Paul was writing from prison, but he found sufficiency in Christ. Listen to some of the other places that God had brought about in his life:

24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

2 Corinthians 11:24–27

 

In all these places under the providence of God, Paul discovered the secret of sufficiency in Christ. It was Christ who gave him strength to endure all these things where God had him. But not only where God had him, look at what he also said:

 

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:12-13 NLT

 

This verse describes what Paul had or didn’t have in life.

Brought low is in a tense that indicates that something had happened to bring him down, so it pointed to humble conditions while abounding

referred to being prosperous. Then he used words that described physical needs like being hungry or full. Through the trials that you read about, Paul experienced adversity and prosperity; being filled and being hungry, but through it was Christ who gave him strength to be content.

 

The natural response of most of us during adversity is to draw near to God. During times of difficulty don’t you depend on God more by praying more, reading God’s Word, or becoming more regular in Sunday Worship because you are leaning into God’s strength. However, it’s not really possible to fully know the contentment of sufficiency in Christ during prosperity. We don’t know how to abound very well, because when things are going well, your tendency is to be more self-sufficient. Am I right or am I right? You look to yourself and it feeds the “

I want more and I want it now mindset

.” But not Paul, he knew the secret to living in prosperity and adversity.

Do you remember the little story I have told you before about the little boy on the tin roof of a barn? His parents had told him repeatedly to stay off the barn lest he fall off and break his somewhat and bruise his elsewhere. Like lots of little boys, he decided he was smarter than his parents. While sitting on the ridge of the barn he suddenly began to slide toward the edge.

 

He remembered that he could pray when he was in trouble. So he prayed quickly, “Oh God, please don’t let me slide off the roof.” About that time one of those galvanized nails in the roof that had worked itself loose snagged his pants. Whew, he was saved…then he said, “

Well, never mind now, Lord, I got this nail

.”

 

Isn’t that like you? When you’re in trouble you reach out for the sufficiency of Christ, but when things are going well, how often have you said, “

Never mind, Lord, I got this

.”

 

The secret is sufficiency in Christ for what God has given me… what God provides v. 19.

 

19“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

These words must have been so encouraging to the Philippians because they were experiencing poverty and hardship because of their commitment to the cause of Christ. Out of their poverty, they had given generously to Paul and he wanted them to know that God would provide for their needs. Through their persecution, Christ provided strength for them to endure. Whatever their needs were for the moment God would supply them because His supply is never ending, “

according to His riches in glory

.” This does not mean lavish living is the norm for the Christian life, but whatever is appropriate for us in the moment, God will provide.

 

In verse 11, Paul stated, “

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content

.” Contentedness in Christ was something Paul learned. Paul did not grow up in poverty but in at least a middle income family. His family had the means to provide him with the best of Jewish education by studying under Gamaliel. Therefore, for Paul to experience hunger or hardship was something new to his life so Paul had to learn contentedness. Paul let God teach him in every circumstance or every position in life so that he learned contentedness.

 

Living the Word Applications: Learn contentment in Christ by:

 

TUESDAY: Being A Student…Learn From Every Circumstance v. 11.

One of the most difficult circumstances that I believe God used to teach Paul about contentment in Christ is described for us in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul with a

thorn in the flesh (whatever that was) several times petitioned God to remove it from him. But God said no

because…

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.

 

The word “

sufficient” is the same word that is used in Philippians for contentment. In every circumstance, God’s grace should make you content, strengthening you for His service. In every circumstance, God’s grace is enough for you. Ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this? What do you want to teach me?” One of my favorite prayers is this: Father, in light of what has happened, what do You want me to do now?

 

WEDNESDAY: Appreciating The Fringe Benefits… Do I Really Have A Need? v. 11.

Paul said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need…

” Paul was imprisoned and yet he had the perspective that he was not in need. He had such a sufficiency in Christ’s strength that he did not even see himself as having a need. He had Christ and that was enough.
 

8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

1 Timothy 6:8

 

According to God’s Word if you have food and clothing, then you should be content. That means everything else we have in life is a

fringe benefit. The homes you have, the cars you drive, the vacations you can take, are all additional blessings that God has given you. When you find yourself struggling with the I want more attitude

, focus on the food and clothing God has already given you and be thankful for the fringe benefits in your life.

 

There is a great deal of hue and cry these days about survival of our culture and our way of life. Do we have to look forward to an EMP attack from a rogue nation…will our currency collapse under the weight of our national debt…will there be civil war in our lifetime…will there be a disruption in our supply chain of food deliveries requiring us to fend for ourselves? Some or all of those things God could use to drive us to our knees to turn toward Him for the real necessities of life.

 

Could God use such things to help us get this basic principle of learning how to be content with what we have? Daily I read 5 Psalms as part of my devotional time. A repeated theme is about how the people of God rejected Him and how He punished them. Do you really think He will treat our nation and society any differently?

 

THURSDAY: Whatever Place, Whatever Circumstance…Think Right And Give Thanks v. 6-9.

 
The context of our verses draws in this application. Verses 6-9 instruct you to overcome anxiety by prayerful thanksgiving and right thinking. A lot of things that make you anxious come from this
I want more and I want it now mentality trying to find fulfillment in the things of this world. Think rightly on what God has given and begin giving a practice of daily thanksgiving for them. I think of the words to the song, “Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your many blessing see what God has done.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fMjgS4vu4o

 

In our culture of greed, there is an obscure passage in Proverbs that draws me in every day. Perhaps it will for you, too.

7 O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. 8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.

9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.

Proverbs 30:7-9

 

On two occasions in my life, I have thought that financial windfalls would come to us:

  • A benefactor was committed to endowing our work coaching marriages much like I describe in our book Boiling the Frog – Crises in the American Family. His documented commitments to us were staggering. This fine patriot had managed funds for the intelligence community in our country and his wealth was beyond estimation. Then he had a massive heart attack and died…and along with him the bequest we had expected for nearly a decade.

 

  • I worked for a number of years in a fledgling telecom company who managed a very successful IPO and stock options were generous. When we exercised our options, we suddenly became overnight millionaires…but it was short lived. A wolf in sheep’s clothing befriended us for almost 20 years and slowly sucked us into what was ultimately revealed as a giant PONZI scheme. This irascible, incorrigible, pusillanimous cur stole from nearly 50 of us somewhere between $5,000,000 and $9,000,000. We lost more than half of our retirement nest egg.

 

It took us the better part of three years to get him into court in Collin County. The judge told him at sentencing that he was

the most dangerous man ever to be in his court

. He received three 99 year and two 20 year sentences to be served concurrently. [Parenthetically, obtuse Texas penal laws made this man eligible for parole after only 7 years.] He has never made any attempt at remorse or restitution, even though our forensic accounting suggests that he may have as much as half of what he stole from all of us squirreled away.

 

Since his 7

th

year in prison, I go every year to petition the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to remand him back to prison [they can only do that one year at a time]. So far I’ve been successful in keeping him in jail.

 

Last Tuesday I drove to Austin again to beg the TBPP to keep him in prison another year. I will continue to show up again next year to see if we can keep this unrepentant reprobate in prison another year…or until he begins to make restitution to those whose lives have been so heavily damaged. I won’t know the outcome for a week or so of the Board’s decision.

 

Why am I telling you all about this? Here is the bottom line. Everything…I mean

everything

that happens to us is either ordained by God or permitted by God. Why didn’t God permit us to receive the bequest we had so long sought? Why did He not protect us from the con-man who stole from us?

 

In a word…I DON’T KNOW.

 

What I do know is that God will, has, and does supply all our NEEDS according to His riches in Glory. These circumstances, though they seem tragic to us, take us back to Proverbs 30. God, give us this day our daily bread and help us trust You for any and all outcomes. No matter what, Praise the Lord, and thank You for keeping us focused on your Sovereign will.

 

Along with Job, we work at saying,

21The Lord gave us what we had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”

 

Can you do that? Will you?

 

FRIDAY: Recognizing Your Strength…Christ v. 13.

Learning to be content is tough in our prosperous culture but it is not impossible. However, you cannot accomplish it in your own strength. It takes the divine strength of Jesus Christ. In verse 13, the phrase, “

Christ who gives me strength…” emphasizes the continuous supply of Christ’s strength to us. The next time you find yourself struggling with I want more begin quoting this verse. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength

.” Will you do that…today?

 

[i]

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/w/willy_wonka/i_want_it_now.html

[ii] Wuest, Kenneth. Word Studies in the New Testament.

Volume 2. Eerdmans Publishing, 1942, 1970. 112,113.

[iii]

Louw and Nida, GramCord Bible Software.

[iv]

Ibid, 113.

Read more...

Two Coming Judgments- Craig Nedrow

“Two Coming Judgments”

II Corinthians 5:8-10 • I Corinthians 3:11-15 • Matthew 6:1-4 • Revelation 20:10-15

Craig Nedrow

June 5-9, 2017

 

How long do you think it will be before God says, “Enough!”

How often have you thought about the historical evidences of God losing His patience with His people? Consider these examples

  • Adam and Eve decided they were smarter than God. How did that work out for them?
  • The people at the tower of Babel. How did that work out for them?
  • Noah and his times. How did that work out for them?
  • Abraham and Hagar whose offspring became the progenitor of the Bedouin Arabs who war with Abraham’s descendants to this day. How did that work out for him?
  • Sodom and Gomorrah. When homosexuality ran rampant. How did that work out for them?
  • The period of the Judges. How did that work out for them?
  • King Saul who failed to depend on God to direct and protect him. How did that work out for him?
  • David and his fling with Bathsheba. How did that work out for them?
  • Solomon, the wisest man in all history who gathered hundreds of pagan wives and concubines and forgot the promises of God. How did that work out for him?
  • The divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah who were exiled in 722 BC and 586 BC respectively. They did evil in the sight of the Lord. How did that work out for them?
  • Let’s go back to the Tabernacle, Temple #1 and the Temple #2.
    • When God told them to build the fancy tent, what happened when they finished it? Exodus 40:34. God demonstrated His presence with them. Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.
    • Temple #1 was built and God came again. I Chronicles 5:13 The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord.
    • Temple #2 Rebuilt after the Exile, but when completed, the Spirit of God left. Ezekiel 10-11. God had said ENOUGH.
  • In the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) Jesus came and was rejected and crucified, buried and raised again. How did that work out for them? In AD 70 and AD 135 the Romans completely destroyed the Jews and they did not reappear until AD 1948 as a nation.
  • Fast Forward through the Dark Ages:
    • Great Awakenings – arguably four of them where there was widespread revival generated by evangelical protestant ministers:
      • 1730 -1743 in England and America )Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”
      • The late 18th to the mid 19th century
      • 1850 – 1900s where Dwight L. Moody and others showed up
      • 1950s – 1970s with the rapid expansion of Southern Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans and spearheaded by the likes of Billy Graham.
    • Fast forward again to today:
      • Post Modernism – typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality – we began to drift away from Biblical truth.
      • Post Truth – At one time we had truth and lies. Now we have truth, lies, and statements that may not be true but we consider too benign to call false. Euphemisms abound. We’re “economical with the truth,” we “sweeten it,” or tell “the truth improved.” The term deceive gives way to spin. At worst we admit to “misspeaking,” or “exercising poor judgment.” Nor do we want to accuse others of lying. We say they’re in denial. A liar is “ethically challenged,” someone for whom “the truth is temporarily unavailable.” Truth is relative and mine is as good as yours.
      • There are no more Absolutes.
      • We embrace same-sex marriages and deify LGBTQ rhetoric.
      • We have committed nearly 60,000,000 abortions and call it choice while the Nazi’s only annihilated 6,000,000 Jews. We call bacteria on Mars life, but can’t call a heartbeat in the womb life.
      • Violence and rioting have become an accepted form of dissent
      • Promiscuity is at an all time high
      • Pornography exacts a high cost. Read what John Piper says: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/the-real-cost-of-pornography
    • Apocalyptic literature shows NO evidence that a society called the USA exists.
    • So, two questions lead us into the study of the Coming Judgments:
      • When will God say to the USA, ENOUGH!?
      • What will become of us when that comes, and how can it be much longer?

 

MONDAY: The Judgment Seat of Christ

What is the purpose of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

The Bible talks about the Judgment Seat of Christ–also referred to as the bema–in three places:

10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. Romans 14:10-12

5 1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a] 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

 

Note again, only church-age saints will appear at that judgment.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:10:

 

The purpose of the bema is an exhaustive evaluation of our lives. The Lord will come and

5bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” I Corinthians 4:5

 

That passage reveals Paul’s emphasis on the judgment seat of Christ. Notice that Paul says each man’s praise will come to him from God. God gives rewards to the victors; He does not whip the losers. We know that He won’t condemn us for our sins at that point.

1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1

 

Thus, the purpose of the judgment seat of Christ is to examine a Christian’s total life.

We will be recompensed for the deeds we have done, whether good or bad 2 Corinthians 5:10. More on that in a bit. The term used there refers to a summing up and estimation of the total pattern of a believer’s life. This overall focus should keep us from worrying over every stupid thing we’ve ever done, or thoughtless sin we have committed. It’s a time of reward, not punishment.

At the same time, while we won’t be condemned for our sins, our present lives do affect what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Here’s how:

  • Sin and indifference in this life rob us of our present desire for serving the Lord. That in turn means a loss of rewards, because we will not have used our time to His glory. That is why Paul exhorts us to
  • 15“be careful how [we] walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,16 making the most of [our] time, because the days are evilEphesians 5:15-16, NASB.
  • Sin and indifference result in a loss of power in our lives because sin grieves the Holy Spirit.
  • Sin and indifference cause us to pass up opportunities for service, which we would otherwise perform and be rewarded for.

 

The greatest consequence of unfaithfulness here on earth is that it disappoints Christ.

28And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” I John 2:28

 

That is a sobering thought–we could be ashamed as we stand before the Lord. At the same time, it should encourage us with the prospect of receiving His lavish rewards if we serve Him faithfully during our time here on earth.

With this word of caution from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

6 1“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew. 6:1-4

 

 

TUESDAY: The Great White Throne Judgment

When Terrified Multitudes Stand Before God Unprepared

There is no topic as terrifying as the Great White Throne Judgment…but what do we really know about it? Let’s look at Revelation 20:11-15 together.

 

Who is on this majestic throne?

 

We can be sure that Jesus is sitting on this throne, for God has “committed all judgment unto the Son” John 5:22. Jesus is now the Judge of all the unredeemed. His throne is great, majestic, and being white, signifies His holy justice and impartiality.

 

Who are the defendants standing in line?

John continues, “I saw the dead, small and great stand before God.” They were summoned from all parts of the world, raised from the dead to give an account to God. John explains, “and the sea gave up the dead who were in it…” The ancients believed that if you died at sea or were cremated and your ashes thrown into the sea, the gods could never find you so you need not fear an afterlife. But God knows every particle of matter in the universe and thus summons all bodies, regardless of circumstances, to appear before Him.

John writes, “Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them…” Hades is the abode of the souls of all unbelievers who have died and who will die in the future. The souls in Hades are joined with their resurrected bodies that are fitted for eternity—bodies, I might say, fitted for the lake of fire.

 

The small and the great are there: the king stands among slaves; rich with poor; religious zealots with atheists. No doubt all religions are represented: Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, and more.

 

On what basis are they judged?

 

A book is opened that details all their works. The basic principle: they will be judged for what they did with what they knew. To the pagan who has never heard of Christ, God will never say, “you will be thrown into the lake of fire because you didn’t believe in Jesus.” As M.R. DeHann wrote, “Hell for the pagan headhunter who has never heard the word of God is going to be heaven compared to what it will be for those who have heard the pleading of the gospel and rejected it.” But all who are at this judgment will fall short, for all lack the one requirement needed to enter heaven. Since their names are not found in the Book of Life (that is, the Book of the Redeemed), they are cast into the lake of fire.

Is God’s Judgment Really Fair?

God’s judgment of unbelievers—especially those who have never heard the Gospel—is one of the most controversial doctrines in Christianity today. In fact, even many Christians have rejected the idea, choosing to believe that “everyone finds their own way to God.” So can a loving God condemn people to hell?

 

Q: You said that all the people at the Great White Throne Judgment lack the one requirement needed for entry in to heaven. I assume you mean belief in the Gospel?

A: Yes, and more specifically, they lack not only the forgiveness of God, but the gift of righteousness whereby we are declared to be as perfect/holy as God. The only person qualified to give us this gift is Christ; therefore only those who trust Him come under the shelter of His protection and are welcomed into heaven.

 

Q: Could you clarify what standard is used in this judgment?

A: Paul taught that those who do not know the Gospel will be judged by their own conscience and the light gleaned from nature. This judgment will show that no one has lived up to what they intuitively and rationally knew to be right. Now, as for those who have heard the Gospel, that is a different story. Jesus said that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for those cities that rejected Him when He was on Earth. Clearly, those who heard the Gospel and rejected it—or those who had access to the Gospel as we do in America—will be more strictly judged.

 

Also, those who did evil will be given a lesser punishment than those who not only did evil but also influenced others to do the same. For example, Jesus said of the person who causes a little child to stumble, it would be better for him if he had a stone tied around his neck and drowned. It is one thing for a man to be immoral; it is quite another when he publishes a pornographic magazine read by millions that entices people to be immoral. Judgment for such people will be immeasurably severe.

 

Q: Is the lake of fine the same as hell?

A: Yes.

 

Q: Do you believe in a literal fire in hell?

A: We can’t be sure because hell is both spoken of as a lake of fire and also a place of “outer darkness.” Perhaps those two ideas seem incompatible to us. The point is that even if these are figures of speech, what they represent is frightful and terrifying.

 

Q: It seems that eternal punishment is profoundly unjust. Okay, so these people knowingly did wrong, but after all, they were born sinners along with the rest of us. Temporary punishment yes, but eternal punishment sounds like overkill. Doesn’t eternal punishment fly in the face of common human compassion and fairness?

A: You have stated the dilemma exactly! I’m not sure I have an entirely satisfying answer to this question, but let me give some perspective. What if, as Jonathan Edwards said, the greatness of a sin is determined by the greatness of the being against whom it is committed? To throw a snowball at a mailman is one thing; to throw one at a policeman is another. And if you throw a snowball at the President of the United States, you will be arrested. Using that analogy, think of the infinite crime of sinning against an infinite God. Sin is much more serious to God than it is to us.

Also, because we are eternal beings, those who are in the lake of fire bear the consequences of their personal guilt forever.

 

Q: What do you say to the person who has a spouse or a son or daughter who has died as an unbeliever?

A: It comes down to this: God is repeatedly described in the Scriptures as meticulously just. We honor Him by believing and trusting in His justice, knowing that someday we will agree with all of His decisions and forever sing, “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints!” I have no doubt that those who are in the lake of fire will agree that they are being justly punished. After all, the sin they committed on Earth will be present to their mind and consciences. This in itself would be a form of hell. Difficult doctrine to be sure, but God is more incomprehensible than we generally believe Him to be. https://www.moodymedia.org/articles/god-unfair/

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Degrees of Reward and Punishment

It is apparent that there are several ways to get into heaven. One of them is to faithfully serve our Father and Lord Jesus Christ with quality care for Their creatures on earth. Another way is it just limp along with little good works. If you have given your heart to Jesus and nothing more, then you’ll still get in, but only by the skin of your teeth, by the seat of your pants, with your hair on fire.

A better way is to be about well doing for Jesus’ sake. There WILL be degrees of reward in heaven and I suspect, by extension, degrees of punishment for those who live up to the light they have, but do not know Jesus, as opposed to those who vigorously and vehemently deny Jesus.

11 for no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.1 Cor. 3:11-15

 

 

THURSDAY: The Two Feasts Of Revelation 19. To Which Do You Want To Be Invited To Attend?

At the end of all things, there will be two feasts orchestrated by God. To which one do you want to be invited?

Feast One

19 1 After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.

2 His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute

who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants.” 3 And again their voices rang out:

“Praise the Lord! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!”

4 Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!” 5 And from the throne came a voice that said,

“Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” 6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:

“Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.

8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters[c] who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”

The Rider on the White Horse

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh[e] was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.

 

 

FRIDAY: To Do List

In light of all the examples of recorded history when God has previously said, ENOUGH! what are you to do today to get ready.

  • Pray for your own soul to stand firm against Post-truth, no matter what the cost. Commit your life to Jesus and get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • Pray for your church leadership to hold the standards high to help us keep from succumbing to the vagaries of our temptations to abandon absolutes.
  • Pray for our nation for another Great Awakening and soon, for a revival of repentance.
  • If God is not going to spare our nation…if we are too far gone…pray diligently for the Second Coming of Jesus. I used to tell my Jewish friends to ask Messiah when He comes, “If this your first trip or your second?”
  • God help us respond to You in time for another delay in Your judgment. It’s coming.

 

 


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One: “Conflict Resolution”

One: “Conflict Resolution”

Philippians 4:1-3

May 22 – 26, 2017

 
Everywhere you look you are in one relationship or another, and because of that, conflict is inevitable. Sooner or later conflict occurs. Left unattended, conflict can lead to devastating results. Gary Preston said of conflict…“

Conflict has a way of growing a small snow-slide into a full-scale avalanche. On its way downhill, it can sweep victims into its wake. A conflict has the potential to mar the integrity of combatants on both sides.”[i]

The boys at

www.Despair.com captured this thought in a couple of cartoons on Teamwork. Either is a good example of what Paul was teaching the church at Philippi. There was a serious conflict that was threatening to turn into a full-scale avalanche of division within a thriving church. Therefore, one of the reasons Paul wrote this letter was to call the church to real Oneness

and so he addressed this conflict.

 

In the process, he gave us a great example of how to resolve conflict within the church and in every other relationships you find yourself in as well. For us to stand as

ONE in a divided world it is mandatory to be able to resolve conflict in a way that promotes unity. The title of this week’s study is Conflict Resolution

.

1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Philippians 4:1-3

 

Paul finished talking about his passion to know Christ and to restlessly pursue Christ-like maturity. He set the table to begin the transition into the zinger for closing out this letter.

 

In verse 1, he returned to a familiar command, “

stand firm”, (see 1:27)

. The main command was to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel by being united or standing together as one. However, and here is the rub that started this letter, the only way they could stand firm as one was by resolving the conflict between these two busybody women that was disturbing their unity.

 

In verse 2, Paul calls out these two ladies who were at odds with one another, Euodia and Syntyche. We are not sure of the specifics of their conflict, but I believe it is safe to say that it had nothing to do with faith or doctrine. If there was a doctrinal concern, I believe Paul would have addressed that issue very specifically in these verses and not in as general a way as he did here. It could have been as inane as the color of the choir robes or the music style (tongue-in-cheek). The nature of their conflict had more to do with what Paul rebuked in chapter 2:3-4, personal goals, personal glory, and selfish interests than anything else. Watch carefully how Paul seeks to resolve this conflict between these two women.

 

Paul Addressed The Conflict And Did Not Avoid It v. 2.

One of the easiest ways to deal with conflict is not to deal with it at all, but when conflicts go unaddressed, they only fester and create more problems. Conflict that goes addressed and unresolved between two individuals often results in resentment and bitterness that can trickle down into the rest of the church body, the organization, the family or the team. We don’t know how big the church at Philippi was and there may be some that would say, “

Oh, just a little conflict between a couple of people in the church is not that big of deal.” But for the apostle Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even a conflict between two women was a big enough threat to Oneness for Paul to address. That is exactly why Paul addressed it. For there to be true Oneness, even the smallest of conflicts needed to be addressed and not avoided. Harville and Helen Hendrix of Relationships First and Safe Conversations often say, Conflict is growth trying to happen. Conflict is inevitable in every relationship, but expecting it to go away on its own or to be buried and not hurt the relationship is foolishness of the first water. Conflict Resolution

skills are among the most needed and the least taught skills in every setting.
Scott Stanley and Howard Markman of PREP, Inc. have addressed this insidious issue in the workaday world in their seminal study

Winning the Workplace Challenge. https://www.prepinc.com/content/curricula/winning-the-workplace-challenge.htm

 

One of the reasons that dealing with conflict is so important in organizations is the published findings that it costs a company approximately $8,000/year for each employee who has a dysfunctional family. How does that happen you may ask? Consider this:

  • Workers from dysfunctional families are less productive and have larger scrapped operations in their work.
  • There is more absenteeism
  • There is more presenteeism (showing up and doing nothing)
  • There are more voluntary and involuntary separations of employment
  • There is the need to post for vacancies
  • There is a vetting process and interviewing new candidates
  • There is the hiring process
  • There is onboarding process
  • There is the process of bringing new employees up to productivity.

 

Can you begin to see how these published findings make sense now? Conflict and unresolved conflict in any organization are disastrous at best.
 

 

MONDAY: Paul Appealed To The Ladies And Did Not Attack Them V.2.

 

Notice the word “entreat” in verse 2. This is a strong word that means, “I beg or please.”[ii] Can you hear the appeal?

I beg Euodia and I beg Syntyche please agree in the Lord.”

 

This has a tendency to soften the blow in addressing these two ladies personally instead of attacking them. Dr. Kent Pate notes the difference between an appeal and an attack.

AppealA person speaks truth to another but with respect and regard for the other person. The words are directed toward performance or beliefs.

Attack – A person speaks truth to another but without respect and regard for the other person. The words are directed toward a person and his/her worth, identity, or character.[iii]

 

While Paul addressed these ladies by calling them by their names, this was an appeal for them to resolve their conflict without attacking their character. Even, in chapter 2:1-11 where he addressed specific attitudes that were probably promoting this conflict, he gave those instructions as a general command to all the members of the church, admonishing them to demonstrate them in our lives. We all need the self-sacrificing mindset of Christ. There is a great deal of gentleness and care in Paul’s appeal to these two ladies. Go back to verse 1.

1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved

 

Paul’s words of love cover both Euodia and Syntyche and the factions that might have been created. He loved them all and they all were his joy and crown. The best way to resolve conflict is with the gentleness and care of an appeal rather than attacking the people involved. Any of you who have worked with us on your marriages know the power of being able to:

  • Be heard
  • Be understood
  • Be cared about
  • Be able to ask for and get behavior modifications as acts of kindness

 

It’s amazing how that approach and appeal to one another can resolve conflicts almost anywhere there are willing spirits.
 

 

TUESDAY: Paul Addressed The Conflict Impartially And Not Partially v. 2.

 

As Paul appealed to these two ladies to resolve their conflict, he was impartial in addressing them. He did not take sides. There is no question whether or not this conflict had an impact on the unity of the Philippian church. Can’t you just see little groups of support forming behind each woman for their particular positions. However, Paul didn’t pick a side, because to him there was only one side…Jesus’ side. This is one of the reasons the conflict must have been based more on personal issues rather than doctrine because if it had been doctrinal Paul would have sided with the truth. But, here Paul was impartial.

 

When you try to resolve conflict over personal differences, it is important to approach the situation impartially so that you can properly mediate between the two.

 

We often tell couples that when there is conflict, it is important to really pick your battles. If there cannot be an emphatic YES to these questions, it is best to close your mouth and breathe and focus on making the relationship whole!

  • Can you see the issue from an airplane?
  • Will you remember it in twenty years?
  • Is this really the hill on which you plan to dig a foxhole and die for the issue?

 

Paul addressed each woman equally and impartially when he said,

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.

 

And you MUST do the same. Paul even called upon the Philippian church to be impartial. Look at verse 3, where he asked the “true companion, help these women…” The phrase, “true companion” can be rendered “yoke fellow” and refers to someone who shares the same burden and is pulling in the same direction like two oxen pulling a plow.[iv] Therefore, Paul called for an impartial facilitator from the church to step in and help these two women agree since Paul could not be there to serve personally in that role.
 

 

WEDNESDAY: Paul Addressed The Conflict By Focusing On Common Ground And Not On The Uncommon Ground V. 2,3.

 

In these two short verses, Paul did not spend any time focusing on the uncommon ground of personal difference that was causing the conflict. Perhaps he thought to leave that to the impartial facilitator. Paul focused on what these ladies had in common that should unite them rather than divide them. He said, “agree in the Lord.” “Agree” is the word that refers to the united mindset, the united self-sacrificing mindset of Christ. The apostle Paul focused these two ladies on the common ground they had in Christ.

 

The common ground of their fellowship in the Lord. Thinking back to his words of tenderness

1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2

They were to demonstrate tenderness, comfort, affection, and sympathy towards one another because of their fellowship in the Lord.

 

The common ground of their salvation. At the end of verse 3, Paul notes, “whose names are in the book of life.” Euodia and Syntyche shared common salvation in the Lord and both had their names are written in the Lambs book of life that is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. ‘Ladies, you will spend eternity together based on the common ground of your salvation, so resolve your conflict.’

 

How heart breaking it is when Christians who will spend eternity together refuse to resolve their differences on earth. Because we share a common salvation and worship the same Lord and because our names are written in the book of life together we should resolve our conflicts. But also because of the The common ground of their common goal…to advance the gospel.

Who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together…

 

These two women had worked with Paul to advance the gospel with a unified self-sacrificing mindset, so he reminded them of their common goal. If there is any reason at all to resolve conflict between brothers and sisters in Christ, then it should be the common ground to advance the Gospel. A united self-sacrificing mindset where we put aside our personal differences for One reason…to advance the Gospel. You and I need to be able to deliver what we advertise. Sometimes believers give the Gospel a bad name by the way they act. https://redeeminggod.com/10-excuses-christians-give-for-treating-others-badly/

 

Now WHAT — What’s In This for ME This Week?
 

 

THURSDAY: Be One To Resolve Conflict Not Create Conflict V. 1-3.

 

Follow the Apostle Paul’s example and be a Christ-follower who resolves conflict and does not create conflict…at home, at work, in the church. Even a small conflict between two people, can have devastating effects on unity so make sure that you work to resolve conflicts you have with others. Do you have any unresolved conflicts? Don’t let them continue. Today, take the steps to resolve that conflict. If you need help learning how to do that, please ask for help. That’s what we do at www.24kGoldMarriage.org.

 

Make Restoration The Goal Not Victory v. 2-3.

Paul’s goal in resolving the conflict was restoration of the oneness not the victory of one person over the other in the conflict. Too often we listen to respond rather than to understand. So many times in a conflict, the principals are more focused on winning a victory, of being right, than in the best goal…restoration. You can be right all the time or you can be happy, but you can hardly ever be both. You might win the conflict but lose the relationship. IT is not worth it…ever. To resolve a conflict make restoration the goal not victory.
 

FRIDAY: Be An Impartial Mediator v. 2.

 

As Paul was impartial, you be an impartial facilitator between two people you know are in conflict. Do you know two people who are in conflict? Ask if you can help them resolve their differences. To do this you will need to demonstrate a great deal of gentleness and care, but you will also need to be a good listener and gain the skill to help others. You need to listen assertively to both sides and offer advice accordingly. In our world today, we can’t have enough good, gentle, mediators between people in conflict. Teach people to say…

 

Assertive Listening

When you practice assertive listening, mindfully direct your attention on the other person such that you can accurately hear their feelings, opinions, and desires.

 

Try the following three steps when you practice assertive listening:

  • Prepare

Get yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally “ready” to listen to the other person. Make sure that you will not be distracted unnecessarily by your own needs while you mindfully focus your full attention on the other person. People can usually tell when the other person is not truly present and listening. If your focus is scattered and you are not truly listening, this may cause additional problems.

 

After you are sure that you are ready to listen, make sure that they are ready to share their experience. Don’t assume that the other person is ready at any given moment to engage with you simply because you are ready. Part of assertive listening involves attending to the needs of yourself (the listener) and the other person (the speaker) in a thoughtful, considerate, and mindful way. Check in with the other person in a kind way – “I feel as if there might be something on your mind that you’d like to discuss. When you are ready to talk about it, please let me know.”

  • Listen & Clarify

When you are listening assertively and actively, you are tuned in to the present moment. Give your full attention to the other person by really listening to their concerns, wants, and perspective. Temporarily set aside your own point of view and really empathize with their perspective in this moment. Imagine what it might feel like for them to have these concerns, thoughts, and emotions. Allow yourself to temporarily suspend judgment about the “validity” of their concerns and just listen.

 

If you are uncertain in any way about what you are hearing, ask them. People generally appreciate it when others ask them about their experience, especially when those questions come from a genuine place of wanting to understand and “get it right.” If you’re unsure, asking them to clarify might be as simple as, “I’m not quite sure I understand how you view this situation. Could you say more about it?”

  • Acknowledge

Once you are sure that you have listened to the other person’s perspective, opinions, and emotions, acknowledge this to them. Actively communicate to the other person that you have taken in and understood their concerns. Continue to set aside your own judgments and avoid becoming entrenched in your position. Validate their experience without jumping in and trying to “fix” anything… “I heard you say that you are feeling really overwhelmed at work.”

 

It can provide a surprisingly powerful relief for many people to simply have their experience acknowledged and validated in this way. Many people struggle with overwhelming urges to jump in and “fix” problems, especially when they affect people they love. Resist this urge and recognize that often times, the best way to express concern and provide support for other people is simply take in what they have said and validate their internal experience.

 

What is your typical style of listening to others? Do you find yourself formulating what your next comments are going to be in your mind rather than truly listening? Try not to blame yourself if you do this, and recognize that each moment provides you with an opportunity to practice a new way of interacting with others. Notice the next time you are in a situation where:

  • The other person seems to have something important to say
  • You have a strong urge to interrupt or state your point of view
  • You are distracted by your own thoughts, emotions, and needs
  • You feel disconnected from the other person and that you do not fully understand him/her
When you notice yourself in one of these situations, make the choice to practice assertive listening. Take a step back from the situation and check to see if you and the other person are ready to engage in conversation. Actively and assertively listen to the other person and check in with them about any potential misunderstandings. When you feel that you have truly listened to and understood what they have to say, reflect their experience back to them and let them know that you understand. Notice the difference that assertive listening has on your relationships and interactions with others.

http://www.mindfulnessmuse.com/interpersonal-relationships/how-to-practice-assertive-listening

 

Be Motivated By Love V. 1.

Two times in verse 1 Paul mentions his love for the Philippians. He was totally motivated by love to resolve this conflict. He wanted these two ladies motivated by love as well. Their love for one another in the Lord. Their love for the Lord and their love for the gospel. The love they demonstrated when they worked side by side for the sake of the Gospel. Be motivated by love to resolve conflict. It’s all about having a servant’s heart for one another. Go thou and do likewise…

like right now

.

 

[i] Preston, Gary. Quoted in 1001 Illustrations that Connect.

Edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof. “ Escalating Conflict”. Zondervan Publishing, 2008. 453.

[ii] Wuest, Kenneth. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

Eerdmans Publishing, 1942,1970. 106.

[iii] Pate, Kent, Relationship Keepers.

KPEA Publishers, 2012. 25.

[iv] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.

Moody Publishers, 2001. 272.

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One: “The Restless Pursuit of Maturity”

One: “The Restless Pursuit of Maturity”

Philippians 3:12-21

May 15 – 19, 2017

 

For many athletes, passion is the driving force behind their relentless pursuit of excellence. Michael Gervais, PhD, sport psychologist and counselor to some of the world’s best athletes, puts it simply: “Sustained passion is a hallmark of mastery.” Many groundbreaking athletes (as well artists and intellects) describe the feeling as an eternal hunger. Irrespective of what they’ve accomplished, or of what they’ve lost and given up, great performers struggle mightily to be satiated, to be content. But what is the source of passion? And why does it persist? What drives them to continue pushing the boundaries of their physical and mental capabilities?

 

Ashton Eaton is the world champion decathlete who many believe to be the greatest athlete of all time. At the end of the 2015 world championships, in order to break the world record Eaton needed to run faster than four minutes and eighteen seconds in the 1500 meters. This is hard enough on its own. But Eaton had already completed the other nine events, and he had all but locked up a gold medal.  In other words, he was dead-tired and had little to gain from going all out—especially because the record he would be trying to break was his own, set a few years prior. 

 

Nevertheless, epitomizing the perpetual hunger so common in world-class performers, Eaton decided to go for it. When asked why, Eaton told the media that when the pain came on, “I was just thinking it’s not for me so I have to go.” When further questioned, Eaton said, “Really I was just thinking about me sitting on the couch when I was little and watching somebody like Michael Johnson or Carl Lewis jump and run, and that’s the reason I’m here today. I thought maybe there’s a kid on a couch somewhere and if I break this world record they may be inspired to do something.” Eaton ran the 1500 meter in four minutes and seventeen seconds. 

 

Passion is a complex emotion. All of the theories operate on a spectrum, and many great performers show elements of each. As the climber Jimmy Chin once said, “Mozart’s life may not have been considered ‘healthy,’ but his pursuit of excellence benefited generations of people.” https://www.outsideonline.com/2058771/whats-behind-relentless-pursuit-excellence

 

Augustine once wrote of God

, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.[i]

  Deep within the heart of the apostle Paul was a restless passion to know Jesus Christ. He had an abiding peace with God through his faith in Christ, but still there was a restlessness to know Christ, a passion that moved him to action. He declared:

8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:8

 

This passion to know Christ resulted in a restless passion to pursue maturity in Christ. What about you?

                 

MONDAY: Does A Restless Passion To Pursue Maturity In Christ Burn Within You?

Philippians 3:12-21 confronts you with this question, but also gives insight into the united mindset that you must have to pursue maturity in Christ. Last week in our study of Philippians, you dug into the first part of chapter 3 and were reminded that you cannot depend on your own goodness to earn merit in the eyes of God. You must depend completely on faith in Christ’s work on the cross, period…no exceptions.  The first 11 verses focused on Paul’s passion to know Christ.  In this week’s study, continue to hear Paul’s passion to have

“The Restless Pursuit of Maturity”

12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.  17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3:12-21.

     

In verse 12, Paul stated that he has NOT “

already obtained this or am perfect.” What is the general “this” that Paul was talking about? “This” pointed back to Philippians 3:8-11, where he described his passion to know Christ.  Let that sink in for a moment…the apostle Paul said, that he didn’t know the person of Christ, the power of the resurrected life, or the presence of Christ in suffering like he wanted to and he was continually looking to the power of future glorification. But he also mentioned the word “perfect

” as well. Paul used this word to address false doctrine that coincided with the influence of the Judiazers who were busy threatening the oneness of the church.       

 

These busybodies preached a doctrine of perfectionism and it threatened the church. 

The Judaistic influence Paul was countering here taught that perfection was obtainable here on earth.[ii] However, Paul succinctly stated that he was not there yet. While the Greek word here, telios τέλειος, can be translated “perfect” as it is in verse 12 it can also be understood as “mature

” in verse 15 and also in I Corinthians 14:20

20 Brothers, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in evil and ADULT in your thinking. 

 

The word “

adult” is the same word used in Philippians 3:12; 15. Therefore, Paul said he did not know Jesus Christ well enough to have reached full and complete Christ-like maturity. But notice what he did say immediately thereafter,  “I press on to make it my own…”  “Press on” was used twice in these verses referring to pursuing someone like a “runner streaking down the race course.”[iii]

Paul was passionately pursuing Christ-like maturity. 

 

A passion to know Christ translates into a

restless pursuit of Christ-like maturity.

Within each Christ follower, there is a spark ready to ignite a restless passion to pursue Christ-like maturity. This is a restlessness rooted in the Holy Spirit’s work in your life because,

13 it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

 

Because Paul said, “

I’m not there yet

” in his pursuit of Christ-like maturity he declared he was going to do just one thing. Isn’t that nice? He kept it simple for you. He only gave you one thing, but that one thing is harder than it looks on the surface. 

One thing…

13 forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

This passage is filled with athletic terms so when you read verses 13 and 14 you can’t help but picture a runner in a race trying to reach the finish line.  The State track meet took place this past weekend in

Nineveh, (excuse me I mean Austin)…the one red dot in a sea of blue that is Texas. State champions were crowned in the running and field events. But none of those champions won the prize by looking over their shoulder at the ground they had covered. They won because they kept straining forward towards the finish line. Leroy “Satchel” Paige, legendary Hall of Fame pitcher was quoted saying, Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

 

Straining forward” in verse 13 pictures a runner straining toward the end with his eyes focused on the goal.[iv] The goal that Paul was so restlessly passionate about was “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ” and “gaining Christ.”

 

 

For this “prize” Paul counted everything a loss and he would continue to do so until his life’s race was complete and God called him home to heaven.

Even though he would not attain it in this life, he would relentlessly pursue Christ-like maturity.

 

He went on to say, “

Let those who are mature think this way.” “Think” is the important word that Paul used in Philippians to call you and me to a united mindset. A facet of the united mindset that will move you to stand as ONE in a divided world is the maturity to relentlessly pursue Christ-like maturity.

   

 

The maturity to realize you’re not as mature as you ought to be prompts the lifelong commitment to keep on growing in the knowledge and favor with Jesus Christ. There are three attitudes toward Christ-like growth that are prevalent in the church today. 

  • The first says, “I’m not there yet, but it’s too hard, so I give up.”
  • The second says, “I’m not there yet but I’m OK where I am and besides, I’m as far along as anybody else I know.” In my opinion, this is where most Christians dwell.
  • The third says, “I’m not there yet but I’m pressing on.”

 

Which one describes you?  Let’s take a look at some applications.  If you are characterized by the third attitude, then these will continue to fuel you. If you are characterized by either of the first two attitudes, then I hope these applications will reignite your passion to relentlessly pursue Christ-like maturity. 

 

What Will You Need To Be Doing In Order To Relentlessly Pursue Christ-Like Maturity
 

TUESDAY: Understanding Ownership V. 12

In verse 12, notice the phrase “make it my own” and Jesus “made me his ownthis is actually a word that refers to being “forced down” like a football player tackling his opponent and making him his own.[v] This word rings of absolute submission. For Paul, it was on the road to Damascus that Jesus Christ tackled him and took over ownership of his life. Did it take a Damascus road experience for God to get your attention? That moment when you said, “OK, Jesus what do you want me to do now?” and He came into your life. Did you realize that was the moment ownership of your life transferred from you to Him. Can you imagine what would happen in a church…say our church… if all of us had a united mindset that Jesus Christ owned our lives? It would turn the world upside down for Jesus. To relentlessly pursue Christ-like maturity you and I must understand ownership.

Perhaps it’s been awhile since you came back to that first experience with Jesus when you saw yourself in the light of His perfection and holiness…when you recognized your sin and His gracious gift of redemption. Do you now take that awesome moment for granted? Are you still seeking how to know and understand and appreciate and follow the leadership of Jesus Christ? Muddle that around a bit and do an unvarnished assessment. Can you say, “I belong to Jesus and I need to do more to act like it.”

 

WEDNESDAY: Considering Where You Are…Don’t Regress V. 13, 16

 Verse 13 says, “I do not consider that I have made it my own.” 

 

Paul considered where he was in pursuing Christ-like maturity and said, “I’m not there yet.”  In verse 16, “Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”  Hold true” meant to keep living and “attain” meant to arrive at a certain point in a road.[vi] These words from Kenneth Wuest, a professor of New Testament Greek at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago prior to his death in 1962 remind that you have arrived at a whatever point in Christian growth you have and the trick is to remember the immortal Satchel Paige… Don’t look back. 

 

Take some time to really consider where you are spiritually.  Where are areas you need to grow? What Christ-like characteristics do you need to develop in your life? Read through the fruits of the Spirit this week in Galatians 5:22 and ask God to show you which ones really needs more attention in your life. 

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

 

You have arrived at a certain point in Christian growth, so now consider where you are and keep living, but don’t regress. Take some time to really consider where you are spiritually. Where are areas you need to grow? What Christ-like characteristics do you need to develop in your life?  I believe one Christ-like characteristic that you need and you can see Paul demonstrating it in our verses is

humility.  This humility goes back to Philippians 2:5-11 and the self-sacrificing mindset of Christ that you are called to follow.  Those verses resonate with the Christ-like humility that you need and will produce the Oneness we have been talking about. Consider where you are…don’t regress

.

 

THURSDAY: Follow The Right Examples V. 17

Paul said,

17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us

.” 

 

Following the right examples is extremely important. In a race, very rarely do you look at the slowest person and say, “I want to run like him/her.”  You look at the fastest runner and say, “I want to run like that.” Don’t compare yourself to those who are growing slower than you are. Survey your circle of Christian friends. Survey those in this church body who are the most Christ-like and continuing to grow and follow their examples.

 

Do you have an accountability partner or an accountability group?  Your friendly writer has a pact with our number two son.  He and I both have some guarded areas of our lives where we know we are not being all we can be both physically and spiritually. Every morning we connect with each other across the miles either by phone or email/text and confess to one another our progress or failure of the day before.  It becomes an encouragement for each of us to celebrate when there is progress and encourage when there is a step back.

I need that kind of encouragement every day.  I suspect you do also. Fellas, find a man whom you trust who is a growing believer and with whom you can

do church

together. Work together to push each other to new heights of pressing forward in Bible study, scripture memorization, prayerful concern lists, service to others.

 

Ladies, many of you have a Bible study group. Good on you! One thing we know from coaching marriages is that women need each other in groups to develop their

oxytocin

hormone (also known as the cuddle hormone) and fellas, you want your bride to get her oxytocin tank full. Ladies you get this done by being in groups of other women to talk girl-talk and study the Bible together and talk on the phone. If you are not in such an accountability group, start one. Do it today.

 

FRIDAY: Forgetting The Past V. 13

The one thing God’s Word tells us to do is “

forgetting what lies behind.” Warren Weirsbe, perhaps best known for his Back to the Bible radio broadcasts and author of more than 50 books in the BE series (Be Real, Be Rich, Be Obedient, Be Mature, Be Joyful), notes that the idea in the word forget is “no longer be influenced by or affected by the past.”[vii]

 

 

What did Paul need to forget? His past failures. Paul had persecuted the church and he could have easily let that influence so overwhelm him that he groveled in guilt, but he didn’t. He let the passion for persecuting the church turn into a passion to grow the church. Paul also needed to forget his past successes. It would have been easy for Paul to live in the pride of his past victories in the Gospel ministry, but he was always looking to the future where God would lead him and grow him. 

 

We talk about forgiveness and forgetting in our work with marriages and I’d love to have a dollar for every time we have heard a spouse say, “

Well, I can forgive you, but I can’t forget

.” It’s amazing how un-Godlike that is. Don’t you recall what the Psalmist wrote?

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.

Psalm 103:12

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyoVJfADlwo    

 

God forgets the past, period.  You are not better than He is, so live your life in a forward gear and forget all that stuff from yesterday.  You will never have a different past, but the present and the future are

tabula rosa

on which you and God can craft a masterpiece of Christ-like mature growth. 

 

This old church has a great history with many years of wonderful ministry, but we cannot let the “glory days” of ministry in the past keep us from moving forward. They were glory days of ministry because this church was relevant to the community that was around it. I enjoy playing “I remember when…” but there are more glorious days of ministry in front of us. We must be relevant to a changing community. As a Christian, you cannot let either your past failures or successes hold you back from the relentless pursuit of Christ-like maturity. What past failures do you need to forget?  What past successes do you need to forget?

 

SATURDAY: Keeping On Looking Ahead And Looking Up V. 14

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Like a runner in a race, keep looking ahead for the prize.  The prize is the day that Christ returns or we finish our race on earth and God calls us home to heaven. Either way, relentlessly pursue Christ-like maturity by keeping on looking ahead and looking up because,

20our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself

.

        

Many of you know about my marble jar.  It’s a 3 gallon glass bottle that looks like a scaled down 5 gallon water bottle you can buy at the store. This week I will place marble #3985 in the jar. One marble for every week I have been alive. On Fridays when I put in a new marble, I ask myself questions about how well I have pressed on the past week. I traded of a week of the dwindling number I have left for something. Was it worth it? Did I do something worthy of God’s “Well done!” Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is sadly no. 

 

I watched my old Daddy faithfully stay in ministry until he was beyond 90 years of age and he never lost his verve for the Gospel. He lived the motto I have shared with you many times before,

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

God help me not to waste another minute in frivolous activity, in failure to pay attention to your Word, and unfaithfulness in prayer.  Make me so loving and caring and sensitive to YOU that when you put people in front of me today for whom I can be Jesus in blue jeans, I won’t fumble the baton.

 

Please, God…

 [i]Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians

(Vol. 8, p. 250). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. In Logos Bible Software.

[ii] O’Brien, Peter T. The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle to the Philippians.

Eerdmans Publishing, 1991. Logos

   Bible Software.

[iii] Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2, p. 96. Eerdmans Publishing, 1973.

[iv] Melick, Richard R. The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon.

Broadman Press, 1991. 139.

[v]

Wuest, 96.

[vi]

Wuest, 100.

[vii] Weirsbe, Warren. Be Joyful: Philippians.

Location 113 in Kindle Fire.

Read more...

One: “Passion”

One: “Passion”

Philippians 3:1-11

May 8 – 12, 2017

Even a cursory survey of the world of sports will conclude that we live in a world passionate about sports. Whether it’s standing on the sidelines of kid’s games on Saturday afternoons or professional sports’ teams at multi-million dollar stadia, I never cease to be amazed at the crowds of people that pour into stadiums to watch their favorite sports team. We have all watched on TV the crowds storm the field to tear down the goal posts following a win. There are at least three implied holidays that we celebrate in Texas. The BCS Championship Football game, the NFL Super Bowl and the opening day of deer season. Having watched the Kentucky Derby yesterday with all the mud and the rain, it was amazing to more than 250,000 rabid horse racing fans cheering madly over the two fastest minutes in all sports.

Even if you are not passionate about sports of any kind, you ARE passionate about something. So, how would you fill in the blank? “I am passionate about_______________?” That’s the easy question. The tougher one is this, “How does your passion for these things compare with your passion for Christ?” Suddenly the silence is deafening. Paul had a word for us about that in Philippians 3:1-11. See if your passion about anything matches Paul’s all-consuming passion for knowing Christ.

 

To a church on the verge of fracturing, Paul points them to a passion for knowing Christ as a means to bringing oneness. Listen in…

1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:1-11
 

 

MONDAY: Paul’s Dire Warnings and His Passion

In the second verse, Paul warned the Philippians about a group of malcontents called Judaizers who always seemed to be trying to influence the New Testament church in the wrong directions. Dr. Kenneth Wuest described them this way, “

These were Jews who accepted the Lord Jesus as the Saviour of Israel only and who taught that a Gentile had to come through the gate of Judaism in order to be saved.[i] For them the cross of Christ was not enough, they insisted that believers must add to it the legalistic observance of the Mosaic Law. This is why Paul repeated phrase, “confidence in the flesh” in verses 3-4. What is the flesh that Paul refers to here? The flesh refers to our own frail, sinful, self-effort to try to earn merit in God’s eyes.[ii]

The central truth of the first eleven verses is that you cannot place any confidence in your own accomplishments to earn God’s favor that comes only by grace through faith solely in Christ’s finished work on the cross.

 

Zero in on verse 8 and see Paul’s one passion.

8

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…”

 

He reemphasized it in verse 10, “that I may know him.” Paul’s one passion was to know Christ. Paul was so passionate about knowing Jesus Christ that he considered his past godly heritage and self-effort a loss.

 

In verses 5-6, Paul stated that his past confidence was in his own righteousness by listing his godly heritage and self-effort. This is how it might sound today:

  • My parents were hard working, tax paying people
  • I go to church on Easter and Christmas
  • I have raised my kids right
  • I serve at the community center
  • I give to charitable organizations and
  • I’ve never been in jail
  • I’m blameless.

 

Paul could stack his godly heritage and “good life” up next to anyone and was better than anyone, but here’s a problem, we are to compare our righteousness but only to God’s. When it came to comparing all his righteous deeds next to what God required he like all people are found “short of the glory of God.”[iii]

 

This moved Paul to declare that

8everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.

 

In other words, everything that Paul thought earned him merit in the eyes of God was a loss because of Christ’s work on the cross. He used words that remind us of an accounting ledger with one side being the profit and the other being the loss side.

  • In verse 7, the word “gain” was used in James 4:13 for a business profit.
  • Count that is used repeatedly in verses 7 and 8 meant a thorough evaluation.[iv]
  • Loss” referred to the loss of something possessed.[v]

 

Paul’s past life of godly heritage and good deeds that he thought were profit were an absolute loss in the face of knowing Christ. But, he doesn’t stop there; he used even stronger language than loss to describe his passion for knowing Christ. He said, I “count them as rubbish,” or a pile of dung so that he “may gain Christ…”

 

 

When Pastor and his family were living in Bedford, Texas, Marcy taught bi-lingual kindergarten. One day, she was in her class while another teacher was watching her class at recess. During that recess, one of Marcy’s students asked to go the restroom, so the teacher let him. The boy was gone for what seemed a little too long and the teacher went to investigate. What she found overwhelmed her senses, because when she went into the restroom she discovered that the little boy must have gotten a stroke of inspiration, because he had finger painted with his poop all over the bathroom walls. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, there were a lot of things that I thought about doing, but finger painting with my own poop, NEVER crossed my mind. I mean, like NEVER. I can remember my kids bringing home finger paintings from school and thinking how cute. But, no matter how you look at it, finger painting with poop is still poop. If the Mona Lisa were painted in poop it would not be a priceless work of art, but still would be yukky stuff

. No matter how you arrange your good works, no matter how you try to arrange the goodness of your own life before God, it is still just a pile of poop by comparison to the matchless work and person of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Paul was so passionate about knowing Jesus Christ he said

everything in his present life is a pile of poop compared to knowing Him.

Verse 8-9 says,

8count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, 9not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…”

 

This righteousness is NOT earned, but granted by God.

 

 

This was Paul’s passion, to know Jesus Christ and to have Him control every waking moment of his life. Paul’s world had been turned upside down by meeting Jesus Christ and everything he thought was profitable in life was now a loss compared to knowing Jesus. In verses 10 and 11, he gives us a window into what it means to be passionate about knowing Christ.

 

One of our ministry values is
PassionWe will passionately pursue knowing the Lord. Here’s some ideas how we can start today doing just that. Living the Word Applications:
 

 

TUESDAY: Be Passionate To Know – The Person Of Christ V. 10 – “that I may know Him

…”

The Greek Word “to know” meant more than intellectual knowledge, but referred also to personal, experiential knowledge that is life transforming.[vi]

 

 

Paul wanted to know the person of Christ. He had been through the rigors of religious routine and he found it a loss compared to the relationship of knowing the person of Christ. As Christians, we too can get caught in the rigors of routine so that we lose sight of the one thing God desires and that is to know Him. We think, “If I read my Bible, then God will approve of me today. If I don’t attend worship God will be displeased with me.” My friend, Doug Dillard, for more than 35 years the staff cartoonist for

The Baptist Standard used to pray, “God, please don’t let me do anything today that would make you mad at me.”

Trying to earn God merits by what you do, when you couldn’t earn God’s merit in the past or in the present, it’s foolish at best and stupid at worst…and besides it doesn’t work very well. A bit like trying to teach a pig to sing. It doesn’t work very well and it irritates the pig.

 

Merit before God is based solely on faith in Christ.

Christian, all your Bible reading, church attendance, prayers, devotional time, and works of service are NOT a means to gain God’s merit or approval but a means to KNOW Christ.

God wants you to read your Bible, to attend worship, to do works of service as a byproduct of developing a passion to know the person of Christ. Jesus said,

3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3

 

Someone has wisely pointed out, “One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve” (Paul Nitze, in Reader’s Digest [7/92], p. 137). That is especially true in the Christian life. It’s easy to get sidetracked. We need to be clear and focused at all times on what it is we’re after. What is the goal of the Christian life? If we forget it, we’re not likely to achieve it. It can be stated in several forms, but in our text, the apostle Paul nicely sums up what we’re supposed to be aiming at: The goal of the Christian life is to know and to be like Christ.

 

That’s it, isn’t it! Christianity is definitely not a religion of rules and rituals that we must work at keeping in order to climb the ladder to heaven. Rather, it is a personal, growing relationship with the risen, living Lord Jesus Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him. Our goal is to know Him and to be like Him.

 

The goal of the Christian life is to know Christ.

Jesus said the same thing when He prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Christianity is primarily a growing relationship with the infinite God who has revealed Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ.

As with all relationships, it begins with an initial meeting or introduction. In Paul’s case, it was not a planned or polite introduction, at least from his point of view! He wasn’t seeking after Christ, inquiring as to how he could become a Christian. Far from it! “Breathing threats and murder,” he was on his way to Damascus to arrest men and women who were followers of Jesus, when suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” He answered, “Who are You, Lord?” The Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (see Acts 9:1-6). So Paul met the risen Lord.

 

If we went around the room and asked husbands and wives to tell how they met their mate, we would hear many different stories. Some met each other as teenagers; others were further along in life. Some were looking for a mate at the time they met their partner; others weren’t looking at all. Some met but things didn’t develop between them for many months or even years. Others met and things took off like a rocket. For some it was love at first sight; for others, a long friendship led to romance and marriage. But for everyone, you began a personal relationship with your mate and because of it your life took a new direction that it never would have taken if you had not met.

 

It’s the same with your relationship with Jesus Christ. Your introduction to the Lord Jesus may have been far different than Paul’s. You may have met Christ as a young child, reared in a Christian home. Or, you may have met Him later in life. It may have been a traumatic situation, where in a moment of crisis you called out to Him and were saved. It may have been less dramatic, so that you can’t even recall the exact time or place. But one thing is certain: If you are truly a Christian, you know Jesus Christ personally. You don’t just know about Him; you know Him. You can say with Paul that He is “Christ Jesus my Lord.”

 

You can know a lot about someone without knowing the person himself. I know about Billy Graham because I’ve read his biography and I’ve seen him preach on TV and in person. I’ve read some books he has written. I know a bit about his wife and her upbringing as a missionary kid in China. But I do not know Billy Graham because I’ve never been introduced to him and we do not have a personal relationship.

 

Becoming a Christian requires that you know some things about Jesus Christ. You need to know who He claimed to be, eternal God in human flesh. You must know some of the things He did and taught. You need to understand that He died on the cross for your sins, and that He was raised bodily from the dead. But beyond these facts, you need to know Christ personally. That relationship begins at the moment you recognize that your sins have separated you from God and that you need a Savior. You also realize that you cannot save yourself from God’s judgment through your efforts or good works. Letting go of all human merit, you call upon the Lord to be merciful to you based on the merits of the death of His Son Jesus. Your object of trust for commending yourself to God shifts from self to Christ. You are saved. You have met Jesus Christ personally.

 

Like any relationship, once you’ve met, you must cultivate that relationship. If you meet the girl of your dreams, but then never see her again, you won’t have a relationship with her. You must spend time together, getting to know one another through conversation and shared experiences. You learn about her history, her family, her likes and dislikes, her hopes for the future, etc. If you do something to offend her, you ask her forgiveness and learn to work through difficulties in a harmonious way. It’s the same in a personal relationship with Christ. It requires cultivation and that requires time. It never ceases to amaze me how a young man and a young woman can be extremely busy, but when they meet and things click between them, suddenly they can find many hours every week to be together. What were they doing to fill all those hours before? Whatever it was, it gets shoved aside so that they can pursue this new relationship.

 

Do you often make time to spend with the Lord? It’s sure easy for that first love to cool off, and time between you and the Lord gets squeezed out with other things. Or, it becomes your duty to have a quiet time, so you get out your Bible, grimace, and swallow a chapter a day to keep the devil away. But there wasn’t any love in it. You weren’t seeking to know Christ in a more intimate way. You weren’t opening your heart to Him, so that He could confront you and cleanse you and make you more like Himself. There’s no closeness, no intimacy.

 

You cannot know the Triune God except as He has chosen to reveal Himself to you. He is infinite and altogether apart from us. We can never come to know Him through philosophy or speculation. We can’t know Him through our own imagination or feelings. We can’t know Him through the ideas or experiences of others. We can only know Him as He has chosen to reveal Himself. That revelation comes through His written Word that tells us of the eternal living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb. 1:1-3).

 

Thus we come to know God through Jesus Christ, and we come to know Him through His Word that tells us of Him. The Old Testament points ahead to Christ; the New Testament tells us of His life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection and present reign in heaven. It also tells us of His coming again and future kingdom. It expounds on His teaching and reveals His will for His people. We can never know Him fully because He is infinite and we are finite. But we can know Him definitely as Savior and Lord and we can and must spend our lives focused on that great goal, “to know Him.” But it won’t happen if you aren’t committed to becoming a man or woman of the Word.

 

But, there’s a word of caution here. It’s possible to gain knowledge about Christ through studying His Word, and yet not grow to know Christ Himself through His Word. In fact, you can read and study your Bible all your life and never get to know Jesus in an intimate way! In John 14:21, Jesus tells us how we can get to know Him: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” If you don’t know the Word, you neither have nor keep Jesus’ commandments. But it’s possible to have them through knowledge, but not keep them. If you want Jesus to reveal Himself to you, He says that you must both have and keep His commandments. So the goal of Bible study is always growing obedience so that we can get to know the Lord Jesus better. This leads to the second part of our goal as Christians:

 

The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ.

 

When you met your future mate, fell in love and got married, your life was permanently changed. You would never be the same again. It is the same, only much more so, when you meet Jesus as Savior and Lord. He marks you for life, and the more time you spend growing to know Him, the more you are different.

 

To Be Like Christ Requires Knowing The Power Of His Resurrection.

Paul came to know the power of the resurrected Lord when he was struck down on the Damascus Road. Even though not all conversions are as dramatic as Paul’s was, all conversions do require the same mighty power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, because they all require God to raise the sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life (Eph. 2:4-6). Other Scriptures compare conversion to opening the eyes of the blind so that they can turn from arkness to light; and, to delivering captives from Satan’s domain to God’s kingdom (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). These are not things that can be accomplished through human persuasion or through a self-improvement program. They require the same mighty power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.

 

That same resurrection power is necessary to sustain the believer as he walks in victory over sin. Paul prays for the Ephesians (1:19-20) that they would know “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe [which is] in accordance with the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead ….” He prays for these same Christians (Eph. 3:16-17) that God “would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

 

In Romans 8:11 he explains, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” He means that the Holy Spirit, whose power was necessary to defeat Satan by raising Jesus from the dead, indwells every believer to give us power over indwelling sin. We experience this power as we walk moment by moment yielded to and in dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit. If we live defeated lives, it’s safe to say that we are not living in dependence on the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16). We must learn to live experientially in power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

To Be Like Christ Requires Knowing The Fellowship Of His Sufferings.

Our Savior came to suffer for our sins on the cross. His entire ministry was marked by misunderstanding, opposition, betrayal, and death. While we can never enter into His sufferings in the same way that He suffered on the cross, there is a sense in which we can never be like Him if we do not go through suffering and learn to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (1 Pet. 4:19; see also 1 Pet. 2:21-23; 4:13; Rom. 8:17-25; 2 Cor. 1:5).

 

Hebrews 5:8 makes the startling statement that “Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered.” It does not mean that Jesus was disobedient and had to learn to be obedient through suffering. It means that He had never experienced the test of obedience until He suffered. His suffering for our sins on the cross was the ultimate test of His submission to the will of the Father. If we are to be like Him, we must also learn to obey God through suffering.

 

Unlike Jesus, we have the powerful force of indwelling sin to contend with. God uses suffering to burn off the dross and purify us. But, we have to cooperate with Him by humbling ourselves under His mighty hand when we go through trials, trusting His sovereignty over our suffering, and casting all our cares on Him (1 Pet. 5:6-11).

 

Fellowship points to closeness or intimacy. Though few of us American Christians know it, those who suffer because of their faith in Christ know a special intimacy with Him. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, he looked and saw not three men, but four, walking in the fire (Dan. 3:25). I believe the fourth was Jesus Christ who stood with them in their hour of trial. They knew the fellowship of His sufferings.

Paul knew this fellowship. When he was preaching in corrupt Corinth, he was afraid. The Lord appeared to him in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

 

Although I know nothing when it comes to suffering for the sake of Christ, I had a small taste of it once when I was under attack because of taking a stand for God’s truth. One night as I was getting into bed, feeling somewhat discouraged, I was suddenly impressed with the reference, Acts 18:9-10. I was vaguely familiar with the text, but I had not been reading in Acts lately to remind me of it. I opened my Bible and read those words that directly applied to my situation. And I was flooded with joy at being able to enter, just a little bit, into the fellowship of His sufferings. https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-18-knowing-christ-and-being-him-philippians-310-11

 

 

WEDNESDAY: Be Passionate To Know – The Power Of Christ V. 10 –

and the power of His resurrection.” This speaks of the personal knowledge we have in Christ when He comes into a person giving new life to a soul that was dead in trespasses and sin, but also the power of living out that new life. “Power” referred to power to overcome resistance. This is a passion to know the power of Christ to overcome temptation and living a godly life. 2 Peter 1:3; 5-7…

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

 

It’s also refers to the passion to know Christ by overcoming the trials of this life. In verse 1, Paul declared “rejoice in the Lord.” Paul’s greatest joy in life was in knowing Jesus Christ. He was the source of Paul’s joy no matter what the circumstances and it fueled his passion for knowing Christ and overcoming the trials of this life. Are you striving to know Christ to overcome temptation? To overcome trials?
 

 

THURSDAY: Be Passionate To Know – The presence of Christ v. 10 – “and may share his sufferings, becoming like Him in his death…”

 
 
The phrase “like Him” is the same word as 2:7 “taking the form of a servant”[vii] referring to outward expression of inmost nature. Paul wants his inmost nature like Jesus so that it is expressed outwardly in the self-sacrificing mindset for others. In doing so, he will experience suffering for the work of Christ and we will too. But, we don’t suffer alone Christ is our partner in suffering and through suffering we can know His presence. John MacArthur, president of Masters’ Seminary in California wrote, “The deepest moments of spiritual fellowship with the living Christ are at times of intense suffering; suffering drives us to Him.”[viii]
Are you allowing the suffering you are experiencing drive you into knowing His presence or are you resisting Him?

 

To Be Like Christ Requires Being Conformed To His Death.

This phrase is related to “the fellowship of His sufferings” and grows out of it. But it also has another dimension, which Paul describes in many other places, that of dying to sin and self through the cross of Christ. When we trust in Christ, we are placed “in Christ,” which means that we are identified with Him in His death and resurrection. But, we have to live experientially what is true of us positionally. In Galatians 2:20 Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” In Colossians 3:5, just after explaining how we have died and been raised up with Christ (3:1-4), he exhorts us to “put to death” the members of our bodies with regard to various sins (also Rom. 6:1-11 compared with Rom. 8:13).

 

This is what Jesus meant when He said that whoever follows Him must deny self and take up his cross daily (Luke 9:23). Jesus always lived by denying temptations to live in His own power or for His own ends. He lived only to do the Father’s will. To the degree that we learn to die to self and sin by being conformed to His death, to the same degree we grow to be like Him. https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-18-knowing-christ-and-being-him-philippians-310-11

 

 

FRIDAY: Be Passionate To Know – The Power Of Future Glorification V. 11 –

“that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Paul was passionate about the future glorification that would occur when Christ returned and the dead in Christ rise first and all those alive will rise to meet Him in the air. He was so passionate to know Christ that “by any means possible” whether through suffering or trials or temptations he would reach that day. What about you? Are you passionate about the future glorification? Are you passionate to know Christ?

 

To Be Like Christ Will Be Realized In The Resurrection From The Dead.

Philippians 3:11 is literally, “if somehow I may attain to the out-resurrection from among the dead ones.” The word “out-resurrection” occurs here only. There are two possible interpretations, and it is difficult to decide between them. Paul may be expressing his hope that he will fully realize what it means in this life to experience what he has just stated, namely, the resurrection life of Christ being lived out fully through him. In favor of this view is the preceding and following context, where Paul says that he has not yet attained it, but presses on. The uncertainty (“if somehow”) points to Paul’s humility and recognition of the weakness of his flesh. The problem with this view is, if Paul had not attained to this experience after 25 years as a Christian, who can? And, it’s an unusual use of the word resurrection.

 

The other view is that Paul is referring to the future resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ, when our mortal bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s resurrection body, free from all sin. We will then share in His glory throughout eternity. “If somehow” would then not reflect uncertainty, since Paul is absolutely certain about the future resurrection (1 Cor. 15), but rather the manner in which he would attain it, whether he may still be alive when Christ returned. The problems with this view are that it doesn’t seem to fit the context quite as well as the other view and the uncertainty doesn’t fit with Paul’s certainty about the future resurrection. The strengths of the view are that the word “out-resurrection” most likely refers to the future resurrection, and is intensified to distinguish it from the normal word in verse 10; and, if it refers to the future resurrection, then verses 9-11 refer to the believer’s justification (v. 9), sanctification (v. 10), and glorification (v. 11). So, it’s hard to pick!

But whatever this verse means, other verses make it clear that the process of sanctification will be completed. We will be like Him, totally apart from sin, sharing in His glory throughout eternity (Rom. 8:17-21, 30; 9:23)! John applies this wonderful truth, “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3).

 

So that’s our goal, to know Jesus Christ and to become more and more like Him. Is that your goal? If it is, you should have thought about it this past week. Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, you suddenly see that make of car everywhere? This summer, we bought a Sears luggage carrier to go on top of our car for vacation. We started seeing those things everywhere. We’ve gone on many vacations and never seen how many of those are on the road until this year. If you will set before yourself each week this goal, to know Christ and be like Him, you will see opportunities all over the place to apply it. You will have temptations where you need to rely on the power of His resurrection. You will face trials where you come to know the fellowship of His sufferings. You will encounter irritations where you must learn to be more conformed to His death. View it all as an opportunity to know Christ and to remind you that it is preparing you for that great day when He comes and you will be raised up in glory with Him for all eternity. That’s our goal! https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-18-knowing-christ-and-being-him-philippians-310-11

 

Here is the one practical step I believe this passage challenges you to take:

Take a thorough evaluation of your life for those things that are taking priority over knowing Christ.

Count meant a thorough evaluation. What in your life are you giving more passion to than you are to knowing Christ? Today, will you reshape your priorities and say, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

[i] Wuest, Kenneth. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

Volume 2. Eerdmans Publishing, 1942,1973. 86.

[ii] Theilman, Frank. The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians.

p.169. Zondervan Press, 1995p.

[iii]

Romans 3:23

[iv]Melick, Richard R. The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon.

Broadman Press, 1991, 131.

[v]

GramCord Bible Software. Louw and Nida #4293.

[vi] Bultmann, Rudolf. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,

ed. Gerhard Kittel. Vol. 1, p. 696-701. Eerdmans Publishing, 1964.

[vii]

Wuest, 94.

[viii] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.

Moody Publishers, 2001. 239.

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One: The Risks of Being Others Centered

One: “The Risk of Being Others-Centered”

Philippians 2:19-30

May 1 – 5, 2017

 
 
Each Sunday and Wednesday we gather here for worship, prayer, and study of God’s Word with unparalleled freedom. However, on the other side of the world, in places like Syria, Iraq, and even in the Gaza Strip, there are Christians who risk their lives to do what we do in relative comfort and ease. Many of them are Muslims who have converted to Christianity and gather for worship, prayer, and Bible Study at midnight or 1:00am so that they won’t be harassed or murdered.

 

Shukri Hananiyah was martyred by a group from ISIS for distributing Bibles at the largest Mosque in Mosul, but he was willing to take that risk because he knew it was there he would contact the most people.[i]

Shukri Hananiyah risked his life because he was others-centered, but for most of us, the risk of being others-centered will not cost us nearly as much.

 

I met Walid Shoebat in 2009 when he spoke on our weekly television show at Jewish Voice Ministries International where I served as COO. He traveled then with a bodyguard in this country because the PLO had placed a $5,000,000

fatwah of death on his head for having become an infidel. Here’s his story: For the record, my name is Walid Shoebat. I used to be a radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of Jihad until I converted to Christianity in 1994. As a member of the PLO I was involved in terror activity, and was imprisoned in Jerusalem for three weeks. In prison, I was recruited to plant a bomb in Bethlehem as a result of which, thank God, no one was injured. My mother was an American and my father a Palestinian Arab. My parents sent me in 1978 to the United States to study at Loop College in Chicago Illinois. There I was recruited at a hotel “Terror Conference” by Jamal Said, a founder of the IAP (Islamic Association of Palestine) and Imam at one of the largest mosques in Chicago. The IAP was a forerunner to today’s Hamas terror organization and also to the terror front group CAIR (Council for American Islamic relations). This was in the early 1980s when I was being trained for Jihad activities in the USA along with many other young foreigners as well as US citizens. The Imams were the prime recruiters for terrorism then as they are still today and terror conferences are held all over the USA to this day. http://shoebat.com/shoebat-foundation/who-is-walid/

 

Walid was involved in a terrible auto accident and in his convalescence he was ministered to by Christian doctors and nurses who confused his indoctrination of hatred with their kindnesses and ministrations. He came to know Jesus Christ as a result and works under the cloud of hate from the Muslim world unto this day to tell others about his relationship with God regardless of the consequences.

 

What have you risked for the work of Jesus Christ? Will you risk being others-centered?

 

This week our study in Philippians brings us to Philippians 2:19-30. Paul holds up two examples of Jesus Christ followers who risked themselves to be others-centered following the example of Jesus Christ. I think it’s a good thing that he does, because the thought of having the same self-sacrificing mindset of Jesus Christ for others seems too lofty for us to attain. It is easy to be intimidated by the example of Paul as well. But, in these verses Paul gave to the Philippians and now to us the example of two regular Christian men who demonstrated the self-sacrificing mindset of Jesus Christ and ran the risk of being others-centered. The title of this week’s study is “

The Risk of Being Others-Centered

.”

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. 25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Jesus Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Philippians 2:19-30

 

In this passage, Paul holds up Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples of two Christian men who got it about being others-centered. Paul’s deep desire was that the Philippians would follow their examples as a means of bringing about oneness and overcoming their divisions. Who were these two men?
 
 

 

MONDAY: Timothy Was A Young Man That We First Encounter In Acts 16

He was “well-spoken of” by “

brothers at Lystra and Iconium.” Paul called Timothy his child in the faith in 1 Corinthians 4:1 indicating that Paul had led him to Jesus Christ. This probably happened during Paul’s first missionary journey to Lystra mentioned in Acts 14:6-23

. Timothy would become a constant traveling companion of Paul during his other missionary journeys.
  • Timothy’s name means “honoring God” or “precious to God.” These two designations proved to be true in the life of this disciple.
  • From an early age, Timothy put his faith in the Lord (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy saw this sincere trust in God first modeled by his grandmother, Lois. In turn, she imparted that faith to her daughter, Eunice, who then passed it on to her son, Timothy.
  • Timothy may have heard about the Savior during Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 14:6). If so, the Lord used Paul’s proclamation of the gospel to bring Timothy to a saving knowledge of the truth. In this case, the young man’s mother and grandmother also became disciples of Jesus due to the ministry of Paul.
  • Despite Timothy’s mixed racial background, he eagerly identified himself as a follower of the Messiah (16:1). Indeed, in the time between Paul’s first and second missionary journeys, Timothy had won the admiration of the Christians in his hometown of Lystra and in the larger city of Iconium nearby to the north (vs. 2).
  • Timothy grew up in an environment that was distinctively character forming. It proved to be ideal for someone who was to be one of Paul’s troubleshooters among the largely Gentile congregations of Greece and Asia Minor. By the time Paul made a return trip to Lystra, Timothy had developed sufficient leadership potential. For this reason, the apostle added Timothy to the team to help strengthen the house churches that already peppered Asia Minor.
  • Paul was convinced that it was worth his time and effort to mentor Timothy. Perhaps, as well, the apostle had seen the advantages of the Barnabas-Paul-Mark trio and had been looking for someone to complete another trio involving himself and Silas.
  • Timothy was an active, faithful member of the missionary team. As the trio ventured from one city to another, Timothy joined Paul and Silas in telling Jesus’ followers what the apostles and other leaders in Jerusalem had decided at the recent conference (Acts 15:19-20; 16:4). The missionaries urged their fellow Christians to follow these instructions. As a result of the witness Paul, Silas, and Timothy gave, the churches grew stronger in their faith. Each day, more people trusted in Jesus for salvation (16:5).
  • In the years that followed, Timothy became one of Paul’s trusted partners in addressing congregational problems, including those occurring in Corinth. When the apostle wrote 1 Corinthians, he had already begun his three-year mission to Ephesus (near the beginning of his third missionary journey). By then, Timothy had been associated with Paul for about seven years and was one of the apostle’s leading troubleshooters.
  • During Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, he planned to send Timothy to Philippi (Phil. 2:19). At this time, he was with the apostle (1:1). Timothy would report on Paul’s status in Rome (as he awaited his trial before Caesar) and bring back news about the church to the apostle. In this way, Paul would be encouraged by the information he received about them.
  • Timothy’s heart for ministry put him in an honored position among Paul’s coworkers (2:20-21). No other person shared the apostle’s deep love for the Philippians and was so devoted to serve the church in an unselfish manner. Paul’s glowing report about Timothy reminded the disciples of his unsullied character and faithfulness.
  • Paul regarded Timothy as the apostle’s “son” (vs. 22) in the faith. The Greek noun could also be rendered “child” and denotes Paul’s strong personal affection for Timothy (2 Tim. 1:2). Indeed, the apostle cared for Timothy, as godly parents would love their own children.
  • Paul gave Timothy a sacred trust to keep the gospel pure from contamination. This pastoral mandate corresponded with earlier “prophecies” (vs. 18) made about Timothy. These probably occurred in an assembly of Christians where the Spirit spoke through believers to designate Timothy for his special ministry. This may have been the time referred to in 4:14 when Timothy was ordained to the minist
  • Timothy dealt with a series of conflicts involving the opponents of the gospel (1:18). Against this sobering backdrop, he attended to his inner spiritual condition by holding firmly to his Christian faith and keeping his conscience clear. Because the religious frauds had neglected these areas, they had fallen into serious error. In contrast, Timothy paid close attention to these matters, particularly as he contended for the faith and sought to teach others the truth (vs. 19).
  • Timothy was careful about how he lived and what he taught. This included being persistent in attending to his pastoral duties (vs. 16). The apostle had given Timothy sound instruction, and now it was up to him to remain loyal to the truth in both his life and ministry. As someone called upon to uphold the gospel in the midst of false teaching, it was crucial for Timothy to guard his thoughts and feelings. A failure would hurt both him and the cause of Christ in the churches around Ephesus.
  • Paul prayed for Timothy night and day (2 Tim. 1:3). After all, he was carrying a heavy burden and needed whatever support he could get. Timothy’s tears at their last parting increased Paul’s desire to see him again (vs. 4).
  • Paul wanted Timothy to be fearless in Christian service, as well as confident of God’s power and love (vs. 7). The apostle also wanted his spiritual son to follow God’s call through to the end. Paul knew that Timothy’s commitment to serve had been severely tested by false teachers. They especially challenged his role as a leader in the church. The apostle also knew that Timothy would face ongoing adversity as he sought to fulfill his pastoral responsibilities.
  • Paul exhorted Timothy not to be ashamed to speak for the Savior. Likewise, Timothy was not to be ashamed of Paul, who was imprisoned a second time for his proclamation of the gospel (vs. 8). In the face of antagonism, Timothy was to join with Paul in suffering for the sake of the good news.
  • God was Timothy’s witness as he solemnly warned troublemakers not to argue about useless philosophical matters. Indeed, those who listened to the frauds were spiritually harmed by what was said (vs. 14). Timothy effectively carried out his pastoral responsibilities by diligently studying and accurately expounding God’s Word. In turn, this enabled Jesus’ disciples to know sound doctrine (vs. 15).
  • Over the years of their collaboration together, Paul had taught Timothy many truths. In the face of stiff opposition, the apostle urged Timothy to remain faithful to those truths. Since these teachings had come from such a trustworthy minister as Paul, Timothy had the utmost confidence in their reliability.
  • During Timothy’s childhood, his mother and grandmother taught him God’s Word (vs. 15). So, Timothy instinctively knew that the message Paul proclaimed was consistent with the Holy Scriptures. In fact, the latter had given Timothy the wisdom that eventually led him to salvation through faith in the Redeemer.
  • Timothy’s primary responsibility was to herald the gospel (4:1-2). He was to be ready and willing at all times to use God’s Word to correct and censure the transgressor and to exhort and encourage the wayward. Moreover, in his pastoral role, Timothy was to exercise great patience, especially as he carefully taught others the truths of righteousness.
  • Timothy’s enduring legacy was that of faithful Christian service. On the one hand, his background in Judaism and Hellenistic paganism made him a useful emissary of Paul in places such as Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2). On the other hand, Timothy spent time with Paul on his numerous preaching excursions (Rom. 16:21; 2 Cor. 1:19). Timothy even accompanied Paul and several other associates to Jerusalem with a love offering to ease their impoverished situation (Acts 20:4).
  • Throughout the remainder of Timothy’s life, he never wavered as a disciple of Jesus. Even when Timothy was imprisoned for a time (possibly at Rome), he remained true to his pastoral calling (Heb. 13:23). According to the Acts of Timothy (possibly written in the fifth century), Timothy was martyred for his faith in d. 97, when a mob of irate unbelievers stoned the aged church leader to death for opposing their veneration of the pagan goddess, Diana (or Artemis).https://disciplr.com/timothy-facts-lessons/

Notice how Paul characterized Timothy in verses 20 and 21,

20 “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

We’re not sure who the others are that Paul referred to in verse 21, but what is important is how he described them, “

they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ

.” Does that phrase sound familiar to you? Look back at Philippians 2:4

4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of OTHERS

.”

The characteristic that set Timothy apart from others was his willingness to be others-centered over being self-centered.

Even though Timothy sounds a bit like

SuperMan, and perhaps hard to emulate, he was others-centered. He sought the interests of Jesus Christ who was completely others-centered. The implication is that you simply cannot be self-seeking and seek the interests of Jesus Christ at the same time because Jesus Christ was completely others-centered. For us to follow the example of Timothy and ultimately Jesus Christ, you must

sacrifice your personal interests for the interests of others. If the Philippians church had followed the example of Timothy and become others-centered their divisiveness would have been resolved and they would have achieved the Oneness they were called to exhibit.
Because Timothy was others-centered, Paul said of him, “

For I have no one like him…” The phrase “like him” is interesting because it means “like-souled.”[ii]

Paul and Timothy were like-souled. Timothy’s entire life was inspired by Jesus Christ and the Gospel. He was one who could say with Paul,

21For to me to live is Jesus Christ and to die is gain

.” Philippians 1:21
When you are inspired by Jesus Christ and the advancement of the Gospel, you will become others-centered because the Gospel is others-centered. Timothy was one who would risk being others-centered.
 
 

TUESDAY:Now Let’s Take A Moment To Look At Epaphroditus.

All we know of Epaphroditus is what we see described of him in these verses and in 4:18. We can know that Epaphroditus had great godly character because the Philippians trusted him with their ‘care package’ to Paul in the Roman prison. If Paul considered Timothy like his son, he considered Epaphroditus his brother.

When the Philippian church heard that Paul was imprisoned in Rome they were immediately concerned and sent Epaphroditus to Rome so that he could minister to Paul’s needs on their behalf. See 4:18 where Paul mentioned that he received the full gift that the church sent to him through Epaphroditus.

18I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

While Timothy would become a pastor in the church at Ephesus, Epaphroditus had no great position or recognition in the church. He was just an ordinary man who chose to become a godly Christ-like servant whose example seems even more attainable.

Epaphroditus played a key role in biblical history, even if his name is not immediately recognizable. He is mentioned by name twice in the

book of Philippians, one of Paul’s Prison Epistles

. Epaphroditus is the one who delivered the original manuscript of Philippians to its original recipients, the church in Philippi.

Paul was under house arrest in Rome, and the church in Philippi desired to send Paul what we might call a “care package.” The Philippian believers gathered supplies and sent them to Rome by the hand of one of their own, a man named Epaphroditus.

Epaphroditus faithfully delivered the gift from his home church and then went above and beyond the call of duty. In his fervor to serve the Lord by serving Paul, Epaphroditus became seriously ill and, in fact, almost died. God graciously granted Epaphroditus health, and Paul sent his friend back home with the newly penned letter of Philippians. This is part of what Paul wrote:

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Jesus Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. Philippians 2:25–30https://www.gotquestions.org/Epaphroditus-in-the-Bible.html

Epaphroditus was called a

fellow worker and fellow soldier and your messenger to minister to my need.

But there’s something else I want you to notice about his service to Paul. Our passage says he became

deathly ill in the midst of this mission trip to care for Paul. “Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him…

” Epaphroditus risked his life to be others-centered v 30,

30 for he nearly died for the work of Jesus Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”

 

In the context, the work of Jesus Christ that he risked his life for was serving Paul’s need…he thought more of Paul’s wellbeing that of his own.

What was the risk? He left home and journeyed 1200 miles from Philippi to Rome to serve in difficult circumstances.

Even though Paul was imprisoned, he had a great deal of freedom, but that freedom could be taken away at any moment if Caesar decided to end Paul’s life and perhaps anyone’s life associated with him. But Epaphroditus being others-centered did not stop there. Look at verse 26,

26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.”

Philippians 2:26
Oh come on! Epaphroditus was sick almost to the point of death and he was so others-centered he was worried because the Philippians were distressed that he was sick. I can’t think of time where you might be more self-centered than when you are sick. Let’s be honest. How many of you, when you’re sick are just pitiful? How many of you are really concerned about others when you are sick? I’m a terrible patient, ask my bride. t’s a wonder she does not run away from home when I get sick. She says I’m not a patient, I’m an

Impatient

!

Epaphroditus had a self-sacrificing mindset like that of Jesus Christ so he was others-centered even when he was sick and almost died. He was willing to risk his life to be others-centered by taking a simple gift to meet Paul’s need.

Timothy and Epaphroditus are two examples of men for us to follow in demonstrating the self-sacrificing mindset of Jesus Christ to be others-centered.

Here’s the

NOW WHAT?

Recommendations.

 

Living the Word: How Are You Going to Do That?
 
 

WEDNESDAY: Risk Caring Authentically – Get Involved v. 20

 
Paul says of Timothy that he was “

genuinely concerned for your welfare

.”

Genuinely concerned” may alsobe translated “anxious” in 4:6, but here it is positive because it refers to an authentic burden for someone else. An authentic burden where you have thought deeply about someone’s need and it has moved you to take an interest in them.[iii]

Timothy had such an authentic care for others that he could not help but get involved. There is a risk in being authentically involved with others and their needs because it means opening up your heart to someone else’s need in a way that may change you. I think about

iServe

over this past weekend. Sometimes it’s easier to think deeply about our community and the needs that you may see. At other times, life gets in the way. What does it take for you to authentically care and get involved?
  • The prayer requests that Pam Peters sends out. It’s so easy to read them, say a quick prayer, and move on. Is there something you can do after you pray to authentically care by coming alongside the recipients of your prayers?
  • Where can you be Jesus in blue jeans and with skin on?
  • What about the hungry people who come to Grace Bridge?
  • What about orphans, foster children, pregnancy crisis centers? Do they move your heart?
  • When there is a family in crisis, do you show up and do everything you see that needs doing and only then ask, “If there is ANYTHING ELSE I can do, please call me.”
  • What is the right stance on refugees?
  • What about your lost neighbors?
  • Have you mowed a widow lady’s yard lately?
  • Have you made a hospital visit?
  • Do you write cards of encouragement?
  • Will you do something today for someone in need? Will you?
 
 

 

THURSDAY:Risk Going Out Of Your Way For Others v. 30

 
Epaphroditus went out of his way and traveled a long distance to care for Paul and he would go out of his way to let the Philippians know he was okay.

How far will you to go out of your way for others?

  • Risk going out on a limb to walk across the street and visit your neighbor
  • Risk going out on a limb to phone someone and let them know you care and pray with them
  • Risk going out on a limb for others by going on a mission trip
  • Risk going out on a limb to give financial support for those going on mission
  • We have 4 men going to Togo this summer. Considering giving towards their trip
How can you go out of your way for others this week? Today?
 
 

 

FRIDAY:Risk Being Like-Souled With Paul…Sacrificing Your Own Interests v. 20

To be like-souled with Paul and Timothy is to be like-souled with Jesus Christ. That means sacrificing your own interests, your own preferences, even sacrificing yourself for others. As our community continues to change, each of us must sacrifice our own interests so that you and I can be others-centered and reach the new people moving here many whom are unchurched. We must sacrifice our interests for the work of Jesus Christ. Consider this:

  • How many new people have moved to Celina in the past year or so?
  • How many of them have participated in our church?
  • Is the growth of our church commensurate with the growth of our town?
  • Where are these new folks going to church?
  • What are you doing to encourage and make room for these new people?
  • Are you on the lookout each week in church for new faces to whom you can introduce yourselves and welcome them? Invite them to lunch after church?
  • Are you bringing new people in our community to our church?
  • What else are you doing to earn the right to be heard with the Gospel?

 

What personal interest do you need to sacrifice for the work of Jesus Christ here? What have you risked for the work of Jesus Christ? Will you risk being others-centered? Today

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[i] Doyle, Tom. Killing Jesus Christians.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2015. 75-101.

[ii] Melick, Richard. Jr. The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon.

Broadman Press, 1991. 117.

[iii] Wuest, Kenneth. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

Volume 2. Eerdmans Publishing, 1942, 1970. 80.

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